Families recall haunting memories of 2004 Fallujah hostage crisis
Ram Murthi, father of Antaryami who was taken hostage by a militant group in Fallujah city of Iraq in 2004, vividly recalls the horrendous time their family had gone through.punjab Updated: Jun 25, 2014 09:01 IST
Ram Murthi, father of Antaryami who was taken hostage by a militant group in Fallujah city of Iraq in 2004, vividly recalls the horrendous time their family had gone through.
“I wish other parents are as lucky as we were and hopefully they reunite with their children soon,” said Murthy when contacted over phone at Una’s Dehlan village, located near the Punjab-Himachal border.
Sharing the concern of the helpless parents whose children are stranded in the Gulf nation, he says one can but pray for their safe return in this hour of crisis.
“I do not wish to think about that dreadful time anymore. During those 42 days when my son remained in the militants’ custody, we literally went through a nightmare. But with God’s grace he returned safely,” he added.
“I am sure the present crisis will peter away soon and the captors will set free the hostages. They have nothing against the Indians. Those who kidnapped my son and others never misbehaved with them,” he said.
Antaryami, Sukhdev Singh and Tilak Raj, three Kenyan nationals and one Egyptian, all of whom worked for a Kuwaiti transport company, were taken hostage in 2004 by an Islamic militant group in Fallujah.
The group wanted the Kuwaiti company to cease its operations in Iraq and demanded release of Iraqis languishing in Kuwaiti jails. It also wanted the firm to pay compensation to the families of those killed in US attacks in Fallujah.
The video of a visibly frightened Antaryami sitting on the floor with one of his captors pointing an M-16 rifle to his head had left the entire country scared. Antaryami, Sukhdev and Tilak Raj, however, never went abroad again. Sukhdev, who died in an accident a few years back, worked in his fields, Antaryami is a truck driver and Tilak Raj is in government service.
Tilak Raj, who belongs to Dharampur village in Una, claims that they were released by the militants after receiving a ransom from the firm. “The abductors had no enmity with us. They only wanted money. They only issued threats pressing for their demands,” said Raj.
“I hope the Indians trapped in Iraq would also be set free. The captors have not placed any monetary demand so far which further raises hopes of the release of Indians,” he added.