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Iraq war gives sleepless nights to Orissa villagers

Relatives of at least 12 workers in Kuwait from an Orissa village have not been able to contact them since the war in Iraq began.

india Updated: Mar 29, 2003 16:32 IST

For Orissa villager Hazina Bibi, every day that has gone by since the Iraq war began seems like a year.

Hazina, a resident of Brahmabarada village in Jajpur district, has not been able to get in touch with her son Adil Zamma since the outbreak of hostilities 10 days ago. Zamma has been working with a private firm in Kuwait for eight years.

"I was in constant touch with my son but since the war began neither has he been able to contact me nor have I got through to him," Hazina told IANS.

The village has at least 12 people working in Kuwait, and concerned relatives are rushing to telephone booths every day to contact their near and dear ones. However, none of the villagers have been able to get through to Kuwait.

Another villager, S.K. Shakil, has been in Kuwait for eight years. His wife and two minor children are living in Brahmabarada.

"Shakil and six others came to the village last month and were planning to return again this month but the war has upset every thing," Shakil's wife said, adding that the children inquired about their father every day.

About 2,000 Orissa residents are said to be working in different capacities in the Gulf, and a large number of them are labourers.

The state government seems to have no clue about their whereabouts.

"We are trying to get information about our near and dear ones from the state government but nobody is cooperating," a resident of Chilika Lake in Puri district said.

"At least 10 people from my area work in Baghdad, where US troops have intensified the attacks. We are eager to hear about their condition," he said.

Orissa Home Secretary Santosh Kumar, however, said: "The state government does not have any mechanism to collect information on our people in the Gulf."

Labour commissioner Goutam Das said that news on the workers could come only from New Delhi.

A labour ministry official in New Delhi said there were records of around 1,700 people from Orissa in the Gulf but none were in Iraq.

However, a newspaper reported that many from Orissa were working in Baghdad -- as gardeners, cooks, drivers and masons.

First Published: Mar 29, 2003 16:32 IST