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HindustanTimes Mon,20 Oct 2014

18 stranded Punjabis send SOS from Iraq

Harpreet Kaur  Hoshiarpur, August 20, 2014
First Published: 08:02 IST(20/8/2014) | Last Updated: 08:04 IST(20/8/2014)
A group of 52 Indians, including 18 Punjabis, stranded in Iraq’s Basra city has appealed to the government for their early evacuation. They have sent their pictures to confirm that they are safe, but have also let known their anxiety.

Talking to Hindustan Times over phone, the Punjabi youth said they were under constant threat of militant attack.

“The company that had hired is terrorising us by resorting to firing as it does not want us to go back till the two-year agreement is over,” said Rajwinder Pal of Galib village in Ludhiana district.

“We are on strike for the last 10 days. We want to come back, but our employer is not allowing it. We managed to approach the Indian high commission and were promised that we will be sent back soon,” he added.
Another stranded youth Takhat Singh of Hoshiarpur’s Haler Ghogra village said they were not getting regular meals or medical help.

On their insistence on coming back, the company (their employer) disconnected water and electricity connections to their rooms.

“Sometimes we manage food from outside and also go without our meals several times. Many of us have fallen sick for want of medical aid,” he claimed.

The youth claimed that their mobile phones had also been seized, but they had managed to hide one and this was being used to talk to their families.

“The embassy promised to facilitate our evacuation, but we do not know when this will happen,” Rajwinder added, claiming that they had been confined to particular construction site and were not allowed to move out.

“We know that the ISIS (Islamist State of Iraq and Syria) militants have kept a number of Indians under captivity, but we have no information on their whereabouts or well-being,” he added.
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