As the stalemate over 40 Indians kept hostage by terrorists in Iraq continues, the families of many Punjabi youths in captivity have started losing patience and have urged the central government to expedite measures for their safe return rather than giving mere assurances.
A woman breaks down during prayers held at Baba Budha Ji Sahib Gurdwara for safe return of their loved ones abducted in Iraq, at Kathunangal in Amritsar on Tuesday. Sameer Sehgal/HT
About 20 families, who have lost contact with their kin in Iraq, gathered at a gurdwara in Kathunangal, 15 km from Amritsar, on Tuesday to participate in the ‘bhog’ ceremony of the ‘Akhand Path’ held for the well-being of the Indians stranded in the strife-torn country.
Some of these families had gone to Delhi last week and met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and requested for the Centre’s intervention so that stranded youths could be brought back safely. They had come back from Delhi satisfied with the assurance of the minister that their loved ones in Iraq are safe and all possible efforts are being made for their safe return.
However, there has been neither any breakthrough in the deadlock and nor any communication with their kin so far. The government has also not shared any details about the matter with these families, making them anxious once again.
Talking to HT, Gurpinder Kaur, who prayed for the safe return of her brother Manjinder Singh, said, “We are just losing our patience. We had met Sushma Swaraj last week and she assured that soon my brother and other Indians abducted in Iraq will be back. But nothing has been done so far.”
Making an appeal to the Centre, she said, “We want the central government to show some swift action as the delay is adding to our woes. The families here are very much worried as mere assurances by the government are not enough.”
However, she praised the state government for taking up the matter with the central government.
Manjit Singh, whose brother Malkit Singh was stuck in Mosul, said, “The government has nothing to tell us. We are just playing a waiting game but no concrete measures are shown by the government. How long can we merely live on assurances. The situation is such that the government and the Indian embassy in Baghdad are contacting us for inputs. What input we can give from here? It is there job to rescue the Indian nationals stranded in Iraq.”
Expressing their helplessness, he said, “However, we have no choice but to knock at the doors of the government. If the government tells us that all the 40 missing youths are safe, then why it doesn’t it make us speak to them?”
Manish Kumar, who is waiting for his brother Harish to return from Iraq, said, “The government is more worried about the lack money and not its men who are stranded in Iraq. How long can we wait. The government needs to take effective steps for their early return.”
Most of the families, who paid obeisance at the local gurdwara, were in tears and looked extremely worried about the well being of their kin. The families also wanted that a strong delegation be sent to Iraq to rescue the Indians stranded there.