The Taliban took over Afghanistan on 15 August, and President Ashraf Ghani left the country for Oman with his senior staff. With the Taliban taking over Kabul and complete chaos prevailing in the country, people are fleeing in large numbers to protect their lives. But Hindu priest Pandit Rajesh Kumar of Rattan Nath Temple in Kabul has declined to flee Kabul to save his life.
“Some Hindus have urged me to leave Kabul. They offered to arrange for my travel and stay. But my ancestors served this mandir for hundreds of years. I will not abandon it. If Taliban kills me, I’ll consider it my seva (service),” he said.
On his Twitter handle @BharadwajSpeaks, which used to be True Indology, Bharadwaj wrote, “Hindu Pandit Rajesh Kumar, the priest of Rattan Nath Temple in Kabul said: “Some Hindus have urged me to leave Kabul & offered to arrange for my travel and stay. But my ancestors served this Mandir for hundreds of years. I will not abandon it. If Taliban kills me, I consider it my Seva.”
Earlier, the Organiser had reported that fearing an attack by Islamists, the last known Jew of Afghanistan, Zabulon Simantov, had left the country.
Born and brought up in the Afghan city of Herat, he has been looking after the synagogue, a Jewish place for worship, in Kabul for about four decades.
Herat was once home to hundreds of Jews, but eventually, none could survive the Islamist onslaught.
The Jewish history in Afghanistan is about 2000 years old. With Simantov moving out, a chapter in the Jewish history of Afghanistan will come to an end.
With Simantov not there, the only synagogue of the country will bring down its shutters.
Born in 1961 in Herat, Simantov moved to Kabul early in his childhood. In 1992, when dictats from the Taliban made it impossible for him to survive in the city, he fled to Tajikistan.
He met his wife there. Although he returned to Kabul soon, his wife and two daughters left for Israel in 1998.