On Sunday, Twitter users posted the photo of a woman who was abducted by the Taliban, a week ago in Ghazni.
Fatima Rajabi, an employee of the Ministry of Interior, had started working in the Anti-Narcotics Department six months ago.
Although Ghazni officials said she had been kidnapped two weeks ago, a relative said she had been held captive by the Taliban for over two weeks, almost three.
Who was Fatima Rajabi?
Fatima, 23, came from a large family with three brothers and four sisters.
Her father died of a stroke. She lost a brother, a policeman, nine years ago in Ghazni province. An older brother lives with his family in Iran, and her younger brother has a heart disease due to which he had to stop working as a police officer.
All but one of her sisters were married.
Fatima became the sole breadwinner, in charge of her mother, her sick brother and her unmarried younger sister.
She had gone to Noor High School in her hometown of Sabzcho village in Jaghori district of Ghazni. She came to Kabul and studied obstetrics for two years.
After she failed to find a job in her field, she joined the Anti-Narcotics Department and was working in Kabul.
Loss of contact
Farzana is the daughter of Fatima’s cousin.
“The last time I saw her [Fatima] was a few weeks ago when she came to my house<” she told Reporterly. “I urged her to stay, but she said she had to go to work. A week later, her sister called.”
Fatima’s sister had been trying to contact her for three days, before she called Farzana.
“She called and said, “Fatima’s phone has been off for three days,” and asked if I have any [contact] number,” recounts Farzanah, adding, “I did not have any.”
After that, no one could contact Fatima, until she herself called her sister and said: “Pray for me. I have fallen into the hands of the Taliban.”
After that call, there was again a communication vacuum.
The day before she was killed, she had called all her sisters and said, “I will be released tomorrow.”
According to her Farzana, Fatima was very happy when she spoke to her sisters.
Farzana said, “Her sister said that she [Fatima] called the night before she was martyred and said that she would be released tomorrow.”
“Do not worry and tell mother not to worry, I will return.”
But that did not end up happening.
“The Taliban had sentenced her to death. They just wanted her to talk to her family for the last time and they killed her the next day,” Farzana said.
According to Fatima’s relatives, she was working hard to make ends meet and often found it difficult to pay her rent. That is why she did not bring her family from Jaghori to Kabul. She even took food back from her office so that she could save money on personal expenses.
The corpse that came back
Her relatives said she was captured by the Taliban in Qarabagh district and then transferred to Muqur district in Ghazni.
It took three days for her family to realise she was missing, before her mother started looking for her.
During that period, the Taliban again transferred her from their headquarters in Muqur to another location.
After Jaghori residents learned of Fatima’s abduction, the village elders, the imam of the area and her mother, went to see the local Taliban to secure her release but were denied.
Neglect of government or family?
Ghazni governor’s spokesperson Wahidullah Jumazadah told Reporterly, “Two days before she was killed by the Taliban, we learned of her abduction and that was after nearly two weeks. This was because her family did not want anyone to know about it. They did not want to endanger her life in case security services forces found out about it. They tried to save her through the mediation of tribal elders.”
Fatima’s body was found in Andar district of Ghazni.
The provincial governor’s spokesperson said, “This incident took place in Qarabagh district. But if Fatima Rajabi had informed any local or security authority before the trip, we could have ensured her safety. We learned of her plight and took action.”
Members of Fatima’s village and family, received her body at 1 pm on Saturday.
Although, Fatima had announced her release to her family the night before, she was killed and her body was transported to Jaghori by the Red Crescent humanitarian organisation.
On Sunday, a Jaghori neighbour, Ali Naghi, said he had been with the family on Sunday, but he had not seen Fatima’s mother since the night before.
However, Fatima’s sisters told Naghi about the condition of the body.
“Her sisters said that she seemed fine from the neck up but was tortured from the neck down. She was shot in the front and her hands and feet were black,” Naghi said.
“We waited for three hours last night [Saturday] to stop the bleeding, but it did not. We had to bury her at one o’clock at night.”
According to him, Fatima’s mother and sisters are not doing well mentally.
Her family members also said that some of Fatima’s colleagues were with her and that they too were taken by the Taliban, but it is not yet known whether they were released or killed.
Jumazada, however, insists that they could have made more efforts to secure her release from the Taliban, if they had known about her abduction earlier.
After learning that she had gone missing, security and reconnaissance forces had intervened and tried to track her down, he said.
He added that investigations are underway by local and security agencies to find out how she was captured by the Taliban and how the group identified her.
Contributed by Zackaria Noori; Edited by Anugya Chitransh