Nearly a month ago, Latifa got married with Nauroz, his village mate. She just 22 years old, a young lady with full of dreams to enjoy the marriage life. It was pleasant morning in Lal-o-Sar Jangal, Ghor Province Afghanistan. She left her bed a bit early to start the day. She knew it was not a routine day. She couldn’t sleep properly as the honeymoon excitement kept her awake nearly all night. She hurriedly prepared breakfast for the family. Her blood was running fast in her veins. She seemed flying today—feeling over the moon. She wanted to finish all house chores as quick as possible and she also wanted to finish packing before the set time.
In the evening, her parents visited her to say goodbye. She cooked a sumptuous dinner for the family. All family members enjoyed the dinner. Latifa promised to bring beautiful wool shawls from Kabul and warm shoes for her mother-in-law.
It was almost10pm, when her husband asked her to leave home. She kissed elders’ hands to seek their blessings. In traditional Hazaragi dress, she was looking stunning with a bridal scarf. They both left home and arrived at the bus station, where a mini-bus was waiting to get them on board. The driver put their bags on the roof of the bus and tied them up. The commuters took a sigh of relief when the bus started moving forward.
“We will arrive in Kabul in the afternoon,” the driver said loudly and sped the bus.
“Why the bus doesn’t go in the morning?” Latifa asked her husband inquisitively.
“It’s safe at night,” Nauroz replied confidently.
The mini-bus was going slowly but the commuters could easily feel the jerk and the bump as it was running on rough road. The bus was swaying on either sides when it moved bit fast. However, Latifa wasn’t feeling the knock and jolt because she was thinking about Kabul City. And her honeymoon.
“Do you know which place we should see first in Kabul?” she asked, lookinga at her husband happiliy.
“What do you think?” her husband replied.
“I don’t know. This is my first visit to Kabul.”
“After lunch in Kabul, we’ll take a rest for a few hours, and then we’ll go to the cinema. We’ll watch a Hindi film. What do you think?”
“Sounds great to me.”
She didn’t know how Kabul looks like. She heard a lot about Kabul City, especially Bagh-e-Babur, Bagh-e-Bala, Qargha, Kabul Zoo, cinemas and of course the shopping malls. The beautiful national park Band-e-Amir and historical Bamiyan city known for its giant Buddhas were also in her list before coming home.
When the bus reached Feroz Koh, it stopped.
“Why it’s stopped?” she asked curiously.
“I think, it’s a check post. And the authorities check every vehicles here—not to worry,” her husband explained.
In the meantime, three bearded armed men got on the bus. One of them put the gun on the head of the driver and shouted to get off the bus.
“Who are they? What are they doing?” she asked nervously.
“I don’t know—may be Taliban. Don’t know,” Nauroz said fearfully.
The other two armed men started pulling commuters off the bus. She couldn’t believe her eyes, when a dark bearded armed man with thick eyebrows and a large nose dragged her out of the bus. She was horrified. She was made to line up beside the bus with other commuters. She also saw more armed men who were getting passengers out of other three buses and were lining them up. The women and children were crying. Armed men were asking everybody to show their ID Cards. She didn’t know, why they were asking ID Cards?
After checking ID Cards, the armed men were letting some passengers to go, while some others’ hands were being tied on their back. She started screaming when her husband’s hands were tied on the back. She realized that only Hazaras were being singled out and lined them up against the bus. The armed men were kicking and punching them. After excluding Hazaras from other commuters, armed men started torturing and shooting including women. She also felt something in her head and after that she didn’t know, what happened to her.
In the morning, the horrifying news struck to the national media and the social media networks. 15 innocent people were shot dead in Feroz Koh area including three women and a 9-month old child. Nobody was found injured. They were shot killed because they were Hazaras and Shias. Latifa’s body was lying dead beside her husband. Her hands were also tied on the back. She received several bullets but the bullet in the head took her life. She was killed because she was a Hazara and it was the only crime.
As routine, Kabul government issued clichéd statement vowing to bring terrorists to book. It’s worth mentioning, that for the past one month, around 50 Hazaras have so far been slaughtered by the religious terrorists in different parts of Afghanistan. No single terrorist in this regard was brought to justice, which is a matter of great concern for Hazaras in Afghanistan.
Angry protesters from different parts of Afghanistan including Kabul, Herath, Mazar-e-Sharif, Bamiyan and Daykundi even from Quetta City, Pakistan took to the street to express their solidarity with aggrieved family members and demanded Kabul Government to stop the killings of Hazaras in Afghanistan and provide full protection to its citizens. Many believe that if the recent ongoing Hazara killings were not stopped immediately by the government, it would further divide Afghanistan on ethnic lines.
The article was originally published on Kabul Press and Hazara People International Network on 29th of July 2014.