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15 Bihar workers in Iraq seek help from Gopalganj administration

world Updated: Jun 20, 2014 18:25 IST
Avinash Kumar
Avinash Kumar
Hindustan Times
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Fifteen Indians working for a private company in the strife-torn Iraqi town of Basra have sent an SOS to the district magistrate (DM) of Gopalganj to ensure their safe return to India.

They have alleged that the Indian embassy in Baghdad has so far failed to provide any help, despite repeated pleas.

The SOS was in the form of a petition by the family members of Ramchandra Gupta, one of the 15 workers stranded in Iraq. He apparently managed to get through to this family over phone and narrated their ordeal.

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DM Krishna Mohan confirmed receiving the SOS and said he has forwarded the matter to the state home department for further action.

These workers from Bihar are among thousands of Indians stranded in Iraq after the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIS) overran large parts of the country and pushing the country towards a major crisis.

The ISIS has also taken 40 Indian nationals captive by the Sunni Muslim rebel group and held in Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

Read: Indians abducted in Iraq traced, being held with other nationalities
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Sources said Gupta told his parents over telephone that they were "living in perpetual fear" with gun-toting militia patrolling the streets outside.

An official of the Gopalganj administration said, "The message mentioned the passport numbers and mobile numbers of the labourers but did not point out villages to which they belong".

"The internet connection has snapped due to heavy shelling. We don't know when the telephone and mobile connections will go off. We are living without food and water. Only arms-wielding rebels can be seen all over the streets from where we are holed up," said the official quoting from the message.

The other stranded workers have been identified as Naushad Ansari, Purnachandra Rao, Mohammad Imran, Mohammad Rizwan Hussain, Mohammad Asgar, Mohammad Sakir, Krishna Mani Kumar Rai and Mohammad Bilal.

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They are engaged with a project managed by Samsung in West Qurna locality, 64km northwest of Basra.

Ramchandra, a resident of Kataiya village under Sidhwalia police station in Gopalganj district, had gone to Iraq on a six-month visa to work as an electrician.

He had left India on February 3 this year.

He told his relatives, that they have been lodged in a camp where nearly 1,000 Indians of eastern UP, Bihar and south India were camping.

In Siwan, as news about strife-torn Iraq and woes of Indian immigrants spread, tense family members were anxiously awaiting phone calls from their near and dear ones to know about their well-being.

Sources said several persons from Siwan and Gopalganj districts were reportedly stranded in one of Iraq's war zones. Worried parents, wives and children have since then been praying for their safe return.

Saufia Khatoon , mother of Irfan of Pathan Toli who migrated to Iraq, was also worried about the fate of her son.

Khatoon said she had not received any call from Irfan in over a fortnight.