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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Families remain hostage to fear

Harpreet Kaur, Hindustan Times  Hoshiarpur, June 19, 2014
First Published: 12:03 IST(19/6/2014) | Last Updated: 12:07 IST(19/6/2014)

Reports of 40 Indian hostages in militant-seized Mosul has created panic in families of Punjabi youth who are stranded even in safer parts of Iraq such as Basra and Kurdistan.

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“We are told the situation in Basra, where my husband, Jatinder Pal Singh, works, is normal but we are still worried,” said Manjit Kaur of Lodhi Chak village in Tanda block of this district. “Every time the telephone rings, we are anxious. The near and dear ones are calling up to know the wellbeing of my husband,” she added.

Reached on telephone, Jatinder said the people in Basra were unaware what was on in the other parts of Iraq. “Nearly 150 youth from Punjab and Haryana wait for respective companies to send them home.

Many south Indians are also stranded,” he further said.

There seems no tension in Basra but Jatinder’s company received a mail from the headquarters in Turkey two days ago, asking it to send home all employees in view of growing conflict in the other parts. “We hope to be sent home in two or three days,” said Jatinder.

About 18 months a go, he landed in Iraq with a group of 14 youth but got his visa only a few months ago. Some of the fellow Punjabi workers have not been paid in six months, while many others do not even have travel documents. The salary, however, is not something that their families are worried about now.

Jaja’s Indra Devi, mother of another stranded youth, Surinder Singh, has asked her son to forego his dues and return home quickly. “He wanted to wait for his wages, which he receives in the first week of every month, but I told him nothing was more important to me than the safety of my son,” she added.

Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna said the exter nal affairs ministry was in touch with the Iraqi authorities and it had set up control rooms to help the trapped Indian community and their families.

“External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj is monitoring the situation personally.” said the Rajya Sabha member, requesting the worried families not to panic.

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