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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Stranded youth claims Indian Embassy failed to help

Gurpreet Singh Chhina, Hindustan Times  Fatehgarh Sahib, June 23, 2014
First Published: 00:09 IST(23/6/2014) | Last Updated: 08:06 IST(23/6/2014)

In a surprising turn of events, a Punjabi youth stuck in Iraq claimed that the Indian Embassy neither approached him and his Indian friends about providing assistance nor did they guide them over phone, in spite of repeated attempts to get in touch with the Embassy.

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He also alleged that his employer was now demanding ` 3 lakh to return his passports and other documents.
Talking over the phone from Iraq, Surinder Singh Soni of Laadpur Tooran village said, "I called the Indian Embassy in Iraq many times. But, no one gave me any information and their dealing did not represent the Indian government's efforts to take us back to India."

When he asked the local embassy about the procedure to return to India, he was told to get in touch with the local police station in Iraq, Soni said.

Saying that he lived in Allatalia village which was far away from the Baghdad airport, Soni added that he called the embassy to find out if there was any way in which he could take a flight from the Nazaf airport instead, as he had no money to reach the capital. But, his efforts were in vain.

Meanwhile, Daljinder Singh of Ghumana village, who is in Basar town in Iraq said he learnt that companies had snatched away telephones from the Indians so that they would not be able to contact their parents.
Singh said that he learnt this when he tried calling other Punjabis and Indians to know how they could return and instead found many of their numbers to be switched off.

Singh said that his company had assured him that they would buy the ticket for him and send him back but, he could not get any information from Indian Embassy about how he had to go back.

He claimed that efforts of the state and central governments had not reflected in Iraq which cause panic among the Indians there.

Talking to HT, Jasmail Kaur, wife of Davinder Singh of Kotla Dadheri village, said that the Punjab government had contacted their family and given SIM a card to talk to their kin in Iraq. But, she added, they did not work.

Kaur said that her husband had to go to Iraq after her surgery for breast-cancer cost them a lot.
Meanwhile, former chairman of Youth Development Board Raju Khanna visited some villages in the district and assured the families to help in the safe return of their kin.

Khanna said that he would meet the chief minister to inform him about what the families had told him.

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