Indians killed in Iraq: Four Himachal families in despair
The families recount the last time they spoke to these young menindia Updated: Mar 20, 2018 23:03 IST
The four-year-long wait for the families of four men from Himachal Pradesh, who went missing in Iraq in 2014, ended abruptly this morning, following confirmation by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj that they had been killed in Iraq. The families recount the last time they spoke to these young men.
Inderjeet, 26: Worked as a machine operator
Hailed from: Kadreti village in Dehra tehsil of Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh
Survived by: Father Pardesi Ram, mother Sulochana Devi, two elder brothers Vijay Kumar and Ajay Kumar
Last conversation: “He called on June 15 2014, and said that they have been taken hostage. He again called on June 17 to say that they were probably being taken to the airport in a bus and their passports have been confiscated,” said Pardesi Ram.
“He was hopeful of returning as he said the abductors were treating them well and had apparently assured them that they would be sent back. There was no contact after that,” he added.
Last contact with govt: In February, when external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj reiterated her assurance that the missing men were safe. “I told Sushma ji, nobody is bothered about the families of the missing men,” says Pardesi Ram, who also met Kangra MP Shanta Kumar, the then Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh and Hamirpur MP Anurag Thakur on several occasions.
Their demand: Pardesi Ram said the government had done everything to trace the missing men. “Sushma ji helped a lot but destiny had something else in store. We have no demand, but the government should ensure that youngsters are not deceived by fraud immigration companies. My son was a machine operator, but he was forced to work as labourer.”
Aman Kumar, 27: Worked as a JCB operator
Hailed from: Passu village near Dharamshala twon in Kangra district, Himachal Pradesh
Survived by: Father Ramesh Chand, mother Beena Devi, grandmother Tara Devi and an elder brother.
Last conversation: “He called his brother on June 14, 2014, and said that he and other Indian workers have been taken hostage by terrorists and are being ferried to an unknown location in a vehicle, “ said Aman’s father Ramesh Chand, an ex-servicemen. Aman was not able to tell family members about his location as it was dark.
Ramesh Chand said Aman spoke for over an hour and after that his phone was switched off. It was his last conversation with his family.
Last contact with govt: In October last year when their DNA samples were taken. “We told the authorities that if something has happened to my son they should tell us the truth,” said Ramesh Chand
Their demand: Aman’s mother Beena Devi said they want nothing from the government. “We have everything. I tried to convince Aman till the very last moment not to go abroad, but he didn’t listen to me,” Beena cried.
Hem Raj, 32: Worked as a cook
Hailed from: Bayala village near Sundernagar
Survived by: Father Beli Ram, mother, brother Sarvan Kumar, wife Nirmala Devi, son Dhruv and daughter Ananya.
Last conversation: Nirmala Devi says she last spoke to her husband on June 14. He told her that he had been abducted along with others. He also told her about sustaining an injury on one of his legs. That was the last they heard from him.
Last contact with govt:The family has been approaching the local MP, Anurag Thakur, and other government officials time and again. The last they met the MP was in November 2017.
Their demand: Hem Raj’s father said they want to see the body of their son. He said Hem Raj was the lone breadwinner of the family.
Sandeep Kumar, 38:Worked as a mechanic
Survived by: Father Dilawar Singh, mother Pushpa Devi, wife Chandresh, daughter Pulkit (11), and son Rudransh (8) besides two elder brothers.
Hailed from: Dhameta village, Jawali sub-division in Kangra district
Last conversation: Sandeep called his wife on June 15, 2017 and said the place where he and other workers were staying had been attacked by terrorists and they had been taken hostage.
“He told us that their passports have been confiscated and they were being taken to some place in a bus. Sandeep also said that he would not be able to call them again as the abductors had warned them against using their phones,” said Sandeep’s father Dilawar Singh.
Last contact with govt: In October last year when DNA sample of the family members were collected. “At that time we were assured that Sandeep and others were safe and will be brought back soon,” said Dilawar.
Sandeep’s wife met Kangra MP Shanta Kumar and the then chief minister Virbhadra Singh on several occasions to seek their help in tracing her husband, and also some financial assistance.
Their demand: Sandeep was the sole breadwinner of the family. The family has fallen on hard times ever since he stopped sending money home, and his relatives are helping his children continue in school. Dilawar demanded that the government provide a job to his daughter-in-law Chandresh so that the family has a regular source of income. He also sought scholarship for the children.