As situation worsens in Iraq, more families of Punjabi youths stranded in the civil strife-torn country have begun to surface. On Thursday, four such families from Talwandi Jheera village in Gurdaspur, whose kin were working in Mosul, reached the Golden Temple to solicit divine intervention for the safety and well-being of their loved ones.
The Punjabi youths, who had invested their families' savings or sold off their lands in search of greener pastures in Iraq, are now stranded there to the dismay of their families.
While most of them have lost contact with their kin in Iraq over phone, a ray of hope shone for the troubled families as two of these were able to get in touch with their lads on Thursday.
Relatives of Kuljit Singh, a resident of Talwandi Jheera, who were among the four families from Gurdaspur that offered prayers at the Golden Temple, said that they were able to talk to him over the phone on Thursday morning. "Our son, who had migrated to Iraq just two months ago, works at a hospital there and he told us that he stranded in the hospital where he works as the situation is too risky to step outside," said Wassan Singh, his father.
They were accompanied by the family members of Dharminder Kumar, who went to Iraq around 10 months ago and has reportedly been abducted, besides the families of Jasbir Singh and Gurmukh Singh.
"When I last spoke to him, Dharminder informed me that his company had posted him at a far-off place. I have not been able to speak to him for the past almost two weeks," said an apprehensive Kanwaljit Kaur, mother of Dharminder.
Hailing from a poor family, Gurmukh Singh too had migrated to Iraq five months ago in search of greener pastures, which eluded him. "At present we have no knowledge about his whereabouts and are concerned over his well-being," said Gurmukh's father Baldev Singh.
Shanti, mother of Jasbir Singh, who too had gone to Iraq in search of greener pastures, said that she was able to speak to her son on Thursday. "He said that he was fine, but did not have his passport with him because of which, he could not return home," she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Raj Kumar Verka, vice-chairman, National Commission for SC/ST, said that all these youths are from backward families. "They sold their family land holdings and invested their savings in search of better-paying jobs in Iraq, but did not get what they wanted," he said and added that he had toured the entire state to interact with the families of Punjabi youth stranded in Iraq.
"I have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Punjab chief minister Prakash Singh Badal, seeking measures for their rehabilitation," he added.