Days after praising the Taliban for providing ‘good food’ and ‘playing cricket’, Indian national Tamal Bhattacharya has now hailed the radical Islamist outfit for being ‘trustworthy’. Tamal was among the 10 Bengalis who were successfully evacuated from the Hamid Karzai International airport in Afghanistan by the Indian government on Saturday (August 21 ) night.
In a recent interview with TV9 Bangla, Tamal Bhattacharya claimed that he ‘escaped’ death by leaving Afghanistan but also praised the Taliban for being ‘trustworthy’. “We thought they (Talibs) will capture us and kill us… This fear remained with me for 5-6 hours until we were rescued from my school to the Kardan International school. We chatted with the owner of the school and the Talibs present there. They assured us that there was nothing to fear. They said that they will protect us. They promised to guard me and all other teachers…And the truth is that the Taliban kept their promise.”
His contentious claims found overwhelming support among the radical Islamists, who were seeking opportunities to whitewash the atrocities committed by the Talibs. One Mozammal Haque Sohel wrote, “Tamal Bhattacharya is an Indian teacher returning to India last night, he praised the Taliban. He said that what is happening in the media against the Taliban is all propaganda, it is dirty media.”
A radical Islamist from Bangladesh, Nznn Ahmed, also thanked Tamal Bhattacharya for supposedly proving the Indian media wrong. “Tamal Bhattacharya, an Indian flown back on Sunday from Kabul proved the whole Indian media wrong in his live interview. He said, Talibs were very friendly & safeguarded all including women. With due respect to their religious laws, I’m saying that they’ve done a wonderful job,” he alleged.
One Faisal Caesar wrote, “While people like Priya Saha of Bangladesh remains a traitor and liar, there are some like Tamal Bhattacharya in India, who doesn’t step back from speaking the truth. The paid media who are spreading negatives about Taliban, (one) should learn from this man.”
After Tamal trivialised the actions of the Taliban, a Facebook page by the name of ‘Paschimbanglar Muslim kontho (The Muslim voice of West Bengal) further exaggerated his comment. While attributing an alleged remark to Tamal, the page claimed, “Islam is never against women. Islam is the only modern religion which talked about gender equality and that’s the truth. Addressing the women, the Taliban has assured them that they can study and work but not alongside men.”
One Islamist named SK Fariuddin from West Bengal posted on Facebook, “Thank you so much Tamal Bhattacharya for putting out the truth (about Taliban) in public.” In the video, Tamal was heard claiming that everything was perfectly fine in Kabul with shops and stores operating as usual. He had also praised the ‘Shariah law’ saying that deceit and fraud will not be tolerated under the Taliban rule. He explained the benefit of Shariah law by saying that the quantity of meat (naan kabab) served to customers for 150 rupees has now doubled under the new regime.
The story of Tamal Bhattacharya: From pleading for help to praising Taliban
Tamal, a 34-year-old resident of Nimta in the North Dum Dum area, was stranded in Afghanistan ever since the Taliban took control of the country. He had been working as a physics and chemistry teacher at an army school (Kardan International school) in Kabul since March this year. A mechanical engineer by training, Tamal was living in the staff quarters of his school. However, after the Taliban took over the city of Kabul, he was forced to lock himself up inside the principal’s residence.
He alleged to have contacted the Indian embassy and couldn’t reach the Hamid Karzai International airport despite several attempts. Later, he claimed to have reached the airport gate at 11 pm on Friday, only to be returned by the US security forces due to the absence of government officials and documents. He added that Talibs were surrounding the airport and had to spend the night in a nearby wedding hall. While speaking to Anandabazaar Patrika, he said, “Please inform PM Modi and Amit Shah so that immediate action is taken for our evacuation”
Eventually, Tamal was evacuated by an Indian Air Force (IAF) carrier along with 10 other Bengali residents. He boarded the flight late on Saturday night and reached the National capital on Sunday morning. On the same day, he returned to Kolkata via a flight from New Delhi. Tamal, who was successfully rescued by the Indian government from his perilous state, heaped praise upon the Taliban after reaching home.
As per a report in ABP News, Tamal Bhattacharya claimed that the Taliban has not only treated him well but also fed him good food. “They (Talibs) also played cricket with us,” he claimed. This is despite the fact that he had earlier pleaded with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to evacuate him immediately from Taliban-controlled Kabul.