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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

Leaders throng homes of youths stranded in Iraq

Navrajdeep Singh , Reuters  Patiala , June 22, 2014
First Published: 13:57 IST(22/6/2014) | Last Updated: 14:11 IST(22/6/2014)

A day after news about 18 youths from the district stranded in trouble-torn Iraq came to the fore, politicians thronged to their houses to extend support.

Though none of them is stuck in Masul town, taken over by terror outfit Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the supposed reluctance of their employers in returning the passports of these youths has become a cause of worry to them as they want to come back. Eleven more families approached the Patiala district administration on Saturday with information about their wards stuck in Iraq.

Congress senior leader Lal Singh, a sitting MLA from Sanaur constituency, was the first to visit Khotoli and Kharabgarh villages to meet the families of 11 persons stuck in the city of Najaf, about 150 kms from capital Baghdad.

Padma Gandhi, wife of Dr Dharamvira Gandhi, member of parliament (MP) from Patiala, also visited the village.

Cabinet minister Surjit Singh Rakhra also met two families of Kheri Fatan village.

“We are getting regular phone calls from our wards, who want to come back. They said their employers have run to safer places without giving them their passports, leaving them in the lurch,” said Ajeet Singh, father of victim Malkeet Singh (20).

Joginder Singh, father of Sahib Singh who is among those stuck in Iraq, said their wards did not have any money even to purchase air ticket as they were not paid for past two months.

MLA Lal Singh said the central government should take up the matter with their Iraqi counter parts to per mit the stranded Punjabi youth to travel without passports. “Punjab government should hand over a list of Punjabi victims, as given by their families, and should press the Centre to make arrangements for the safe return of the victims, besides bearing the costs of their air tickets,” said Singh.

However, minister Rakhra said that Amritpal Singh and Ranjodh Singh from Kheri Fatan who went to Baghdad and Basra, were safe and in regular contact with their families.

“The state government is serious about the issue and is exhorting the external affairs ministry to take steps so that the victims can meet their parents at the earliest. The government is continuously feeding them details about those from the state stranded in Iraq,” he said.

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