It has been over a week since the tragedy in Jalrez, but the bodies of the survivors still showed signs of exhaustion. Their faces were pale, and their eyes were restless. It looked like their eyes held the sadness of the whole world. My questions were met with short and anxious responses.
It is said that losing a colleague in the battlefield can be heart-rending but indifference, unkindness and wallowing of others hurts more than that.
Ten survivors among the Afghan National Police from Jalrez district in Maidan Wardak, after having lost all hope and support in the two days of fight, arrived in Kabul. They sit near each other as they share their story.
They say they have suffered hours of gunfire and mortar bombs being shot at them. They claim that they asked for help and supports to defend their strongholds, to be able to continue fighting and stand against the enemies. However, all they received were excuses. “They told us Jalrez is far, that we should continue to resist. They kept assuring us that support will reach soon.”
“But since we’ve come to Kabul, we’ve realise that all those promises were lies,” they share with some bitterness. They claim that has been five days since we arrived in Kabul, and yet no officials have come to see them. “They have not even sent a message of condolence,” they add.
When I asked Ali, the narrator among them, he raises their complaints against security forces and police chief of Wardak. “They behaved with us as thought we were the real enemies of country. It seemed as if we have beheaded human beings and made the lives of millions of people of this land bitter.”
He says they were insulted, and the Afghan National Civil Order Police (ANCOP) even hid the drinking water from them. “They ordered us to disarm and even treated to stop our salaries. They shamelessly said to “take their weapon and kick their butt and send them out”.”
He continues that insult did not end there. When they were collecting the dea bodies from battlefield, they had to put 10 bodies on each other in a vehicle. “Later we were told that there were no other vehicles to carry them and were asked to stand on the bodies of our colleagues,” he added.
Ali further says that when they entered police chief’s office, everybody rushed towards them with their guns. “Everybody was trying to get something from us.”
Ali stopped shortly; swallowed and continued. “It’s good that our commander, Mohammad Seya, was not there to see us in such conditions.” He added that their commander was martyred in his fight to maintain stronghold.
Ali shares that seven years ago, Mohammad Seya had established this stronghold with plenty risks. “He left his seven children to come defend this region. He knew every family in these villages. He had considered all the locations and vulnerability of the checkpoints.”
“At the start of the fight, Mohammad noticed the attacks and firing from the homes, he found that something unusual is going on. When commander Reza’s checkpoint was surrounded, Mohammad Seya had a weapon in one hand and a phone in the other asking for support,” adds Arif. Arif is Ali’s brother and nephew of Mohammad Seya. He is a member of security forces. He was in Kabul at the time of incident.
He says that Mohammad knocked all doors in his appeal for support, but did not get any.
“When he was told that support will come soon, he recited the Fateha and rushed with his two bodyguards to provide cover to Reza. Mohammad Seya was not afraid of the enemy. He knew the tricks of dealing with enemy. He found that many enemies had come along with the residents of the villages and were firing at them. They had taken control of Reza’s area. When he saw this situation, he called upon his people saying to defend their land,” he narrates.
Arif adds, “The boys haven’t been paid for the last two to three months (about $166). They are eating borrowed bread.”
But they insist they haven’t come to Kabul to as for money. “They did not wear the Afghan Local Police uniform for money. They have come to Kabul to ask for justice. Government must be accountable.”
Ali says the statistics of the Jalrez district show that there are not more then 200-250 insurgents in the area. “But there were around 1000 on that day. We were being attacked from all side.”
“If supporting forces had arrived, we could defeat the enemy, and our colleagues would still be alive.”