An SMS from the construction company for which stranded Punjabi youths had been working in strife-torn Iraq has rekindled hopes of distressed families. The message sent by officials of Tariq NoorAl-Huda company to Parwinder Singh, brother of Kamaljit Singh of Chhauni Kalan in the district, who is among those made captive in Iraq, says that Punjabi youths have been shifted to the Kurdish city of Erbil and are safe. “Inshallah they will all be sent back but it may take some time,” reads the message.
The family is, however, intrigued as to why company officials are not facilitating contact with their kin. “I have myself worked in Iraq for the same company for two years and I am still in touch with them. Erbil is a peacful city, about 200 km from troubled Mosul. It has good connectivity. I called up the officials to let me once talk to my brother or any of the other youths, but they did not oblige. It is a cause of concern for us,” said Parwinder. He revealed that when Kamaljit had called them up on June 17, he had said that he might not be able to come on line again as their mobile phones and laptops had been taken away.
Parwinder alleged that the government did not intervene in time. “Had it been election time, politicians would have been making rounds to our house, but till Thursday evening, no leader or official had approached us.”
Jaitpur village youth Gurdip Singh is also among the captives. His family has not heard from him since June 15. “Usne sirf inna keha ke bachchean da khayal rakhna, te phone cut geya (He just said, ‘take care of kids’ and the phone was disconnected),” said his mother Surinder Kaur. She said her son sounded worried. “Gurdip apne bachcheyan di khatir hi ghar-baar chhad ke Iraq geya se (Gurdip had left for Iraq only for the sake of his children),” added Surinder.
Meanwhile, locating every household whose member is in Iraq and then confirming whether they have been able to make contact with him, is proving a hard task for the administration. The Punjab government had asked for details of every stranded person from various DCs by Thursday evening to forward it to the external affairs ministry. Additional DC Harminder Singh said a final report was yet to be compiled as the administration wanted to cross-check the information.