The Punjab government can't do much to help the 1,659 Punjabis who have contacted it, so far, from the militant-seized Iraq.
Of these people, 864 have called the special control room in Chandigarh directily, while the rest have reached it via contact points in Chandigarh, New Delhi, and district headquarters. Information from the government sources suggests that the families of 16 men taken hostage in Iraq get a monthly compensation of rs 20,000 since contacting the state coordination department assigned to reach out to the stranded men.
The kidnapped men are from Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Gurdaspur, and Amritsar districts. Following reports that of the 39 Indians held hostage in Mosul, 27 are Punjabis, it has emerged that the same number tried to contact the Punjab government. "But we can't do much for them, it is the role of the ministry of external affairs," said Devinder Singh, an official in the coordination department.
Earlier, all updates on the Punjabi in Iraq were sent to the chief minister's office (CMO) every week, and now since the number of callers has declined, the report is sent every month. "We have sent the details of the callers to the ministry of external affairs to take up the cases with the Iraqi authorities," said the official.
"Those who called us from Iraq, we contacted their families and we are in constant touch with them. There are many who don't want to come back but have told us that they are safe," he said.