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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

3 Kangra youth hostage in Iraq

Naresh K Thakur, Hindustan Times  Dharamsala, June 19, 2014
First Published: 21:54 IST(19/6/2014) | Last Updated: 21:56 IST(19/6/2014)

The families of three Kangra youth who are among 40 Indian construction workers kidnapped in strife-torn northern Iraq have sought help from the state and union governments for their safe release.

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On Wednesday, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) had confirmed the kidnapping of 40 Indians in the Iraqi city of Mosul, which Sunni militants have overrun in ongoing deadly insurgency.

The terrorists have kept the hostage at an unknown location. The three captives from Kangra Aman Kumar (28) from Passu village, Indarjeet Singh (26) of Lunj village, and Sandeep Rana (36) from Dhameta village of Jawali subdivision) are employees of Iraq-based construction company Tariq-n-Hul (TNH).

Aman's elder brother, Raman Kumar, had last conversed with his brother on telephone on Sunday when he was being taken to some airport. “Aman told me his captors had taken away the passports of all hostages and told them they'd move them to a safer place; and that they needed their travel documents to book tickets,” said Raman.

Later, Aman told him the passports had been returned and the hostages being shifted to an unknown location. Since then, there is no contact with Aman. Pardesi Ram, father of Indarjeet Singh, is worried about the fate of his son, even as the Iraqi government has now asked the United States to conduct air strikes against jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The family has not heard from Indarjeet since Sunday. “My son went to Iraq about nine months ago as a Pokeland (construction machine) operator but was put on steel-frame binding, while his colleague, Aman, a JCB operator, was assigned some minor work,” said Pardesi Ram. The agent had promised Indarjeet $750 per month but the company paid him only $350.

The families of Indarjeet and Aman have met Kangra parliamentarian Shanta Kumar, state urban development minister Sudhir Sharma and Kangra deputy commissioner C Palrasu to seek their intervention for the safe release of the two construction workers. The third, Sandeep Rana, last called up his father, Dilawar Singh, on Sunday afternoon. “He told us 40 Indians in his company had been kidnapped while some of the co-workers had fled after the situation had deteriorated,” said Dilawar Singh.

Sandeep is married and has two children. “We hear all sorts of news from Iraq and having watched horrifying visuals of the Gulf country on news channels, I am worried about the safety of my husband,” said Sandeep's wife, Sapna Devi.

Political leaders and the government officials have assured the families that the Centre is trying to help.

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