The social media profile of Patson Rodriguez, the 39-year-old Indian who was killed by suspected terrorists in Kabul last week, provides glimpses of a quiet, reserved family man who doted on his five-year-old son Presley.
Rodriguez was abducted and killed on the outskirts of Kabul on August 2. Presley turns six on August 13.
Hailing from Karwar in coastal Karnataka, Rodriguez worked as a chef for Sodexo, a French company that runs kitchens at US military camps in Afghanistan and UN facilities. “They were picked as targets, it seems, to send out a message to the US and the international community against their presence in the country,” an Afghan government official told The Indian Express.
At the Christian-Konkani colony in Karwar’s Kadawada, Rodriguez’s family is struggling to come to terms with the death — he used to visit every six months and last left home in June.
“Both his parents are old and ailing. His three siblings have small-time jobs in Karwar and Goa. Every month, Patson would send Rs 10,000 to buy medicines for his parents and Rs 10,000 for daily expenses at his home in Karwar,’’ Dolphy D’Souza, Rodriguez’s brother-in-law, said.
“He had a diploma in hotel management and was working in Afghanistan for nearly 10 years, initially as a kitchen helper before being promoted around six years ago. The job helped him settle down, get married, carry out improvements to his modest home, buy a two-wheeler and even take his family on holidays,” he said.
“Patson was a happy man when he used to come home. He was here from mid-May to June 22. He celebrated the anniversary of his wedding to Frilla (33) on May 26. All of us had gone to Goa and had a good time,’’ D’Souza said.
Rodriguez’s profile shows he was a supporter of the Humanity Project run by Mangalore-based musician Roshan Belman — it provides assistance to the needy across communities with the motto, “Humanity is the best religion for mankind’’.
According to Rodriguez’s relatives, they received word that he was killed while being transported to another military camp. “He used to tell us that life in Kabul was comfortable and that there were no dangers within the camps,’’ Dolphy said.
“He went to work on Thursday morning after speaking to his family in Karwar. Later, they received information that four armed men had abducted and killed three foreigners, and Patson was among them,’’ Alex D’Silva, a relative of the family, said.
Having studied till Class XI, Rodriguez earned a living as a winding motor mechanic in Karwar. He later did a course in hotel management in Goa before landing the Sodexo job. After going abroad, he had helped a few other men from near his village get similar jobs in Afghanistan.
His social media profile shows that he had also stayed in Kandahar. “It seems Patson used to travel alone between camps earlier and the two others began travelling with him in recent days,’’ Dolphy said.
Rodriguez’s family has been informed that his body would be sent home only after the investigation is completed in Kabul. “We have been told that it could take up to eight days for the body to arrive,’’ Dolphy said. Official sources said the Indian embassy in Kabul is working with authorities and the company to bring the body back.
According to Afghan media reports, Rodriguez and two of his colleagues — a Malaysian and a Macedonian — were forced out of their vehicle by gunmen at around 8.30 am on August 2 near Pul-e-Charkhi on the eastern outskirts of Kabul. “They were shot dead and their bodies were found inside a car (in Mussahi in the southern part of the province),” Nusrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told Afghan media.
Rodriguez’s killing comes nearly three months after seven engineers of an Indian power company working in Baghlan, a northern province in Afghanistan, were abducted by Taliban who reportedly mistook them for government employees.
There has been no breakthrough in this case, although the Indian government has maintained that it is working with Afghan authorities and community leaders to resolve the deadlock.
Rodriguez’s is the fourth case of Indians being targeted for abduction in Afghanistan in the last four years.
In July 2016, aid worker Judith D’Souza was rescued more than a month after she was kidnapped in Kabul. In June 2014, Alexis Prem Kumar, a Roman Catholic priest, was abducted by unidentified gunmen in Herat. He was released in February 2015.
Between 2003 and 2008, three Indians were kidnapped and released in Afghanistan.
Before Thursday’s killing, two Indians were killed in the country after they were abducted.
Maniappan Raman Kutty, an engineer working for Border Roads Organisation, was kidnapped with his Afghan driver and two Afghan bodyguards by Taliban on November 19, 2005. The driver and two bodyguards were released but Kutty was found dead on November 23, 2005.
Kasula Suryanarayana, a telecommunications worker, was kidnapped along with his Afghan driver by Taliban on April 28, 2006. The driver was released but Suryanarayana was found beheaded on April 30, 2006.