Husband in Iraq, Ludhiana woman seesaws between hope and despair

Balbir, 51, had gone to Iraq in 2010 in a hope to earn a bit more for the betterment of his family. He used to work with GSS Steel Company in Mosul

punjab Updated: Mar 22, 2018 15:22 IST
Tarsem Singh Deogan
Tarsem Singh Deogan
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
Husband in Iraq,Ludhiana woman,Sushma Swaraj
Family members of Balbir Chand, who has been missing in Iraq since 2014 and was not on the official list of 39 Indians declared dead, hold his photo at their residence in Selkiana village on Tuesday.(HT Photo)

When external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday told the Parliament that 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul have been killed, wife of Balbir Chand, a resident of Selkiana village on Rahon road, rushed to the Ludhiana mini secretariat to confirm the status of her husband, who had gone to Mosul in 2010 and has not contacted his family since 2014.

Babli, 46, wanted to know if there was any news about her husband, but had to return with a disappointment as the officials claimed of having no information on Balbir, whose name was also missing from the official list of dead Indians.

But that despair has certainly left Babli with a hope of seeing her husband again. She said Balbir, who last contacted her from Mosul on June 6, 2014, had promised her to return after earning lots of money. She still prays for the safe arrival of her husband.

Balbir, 51, had gone to Iraq in 2010 in a hope to earn a bit more for the betterment of his family. He used to work with GSS Steel Company in Mosul. “A chill ran down my spine when I was informed about the statement by Sushma Swaraj about the death of Indians in Mosul. I immediately went to mini secretariat to get any sort of confirmation, but the officials had no information on my husband,” Babli said.

She recalled having a brief conversation with Balbir on June 16, 2014, when the crisis in Iraq were on.

“My husband had told me that he, along with few other labourers, was trapped inside his factory while the militant groups had cordoned off the city,” she said. “I kept on trying to contact him after that day and initially, there were instances when someone else answered the calls and spoke in a foreign language that I could not understand,” Babli said. “But later on, all my calls went unanswered and after repeated attempts for several months, I stopped calling on that number and assumed that his mobile phone was stolen,” she added.

Balbir’s brother Shinderpal Singh, who is a postman in Amritsar, said Chand was the lone breadwinner in the family. “My sister-in-law had to resort to selling milk of the buffalo that she reared to meet daily needs,” he said.

“The government should clear the air over the status of Indians missing in Iraq. If they have been killed, their families should be compensated.

No end to miseries

The troubles for family did not only end with Balbir’s missing status. His elder daughter Kamaljit Kaur, 24, has also been suffering from a mental disorder.

“She had once fainted after going through a severe state of depression, and when she gained consciousness, she was diagnosed with a mental illness. She is now availing treatment from a psychiatrist, but there is hardly any improvement in her health,” Babli said.

“Our second daughter has also turned 21 this year. I am worried about her marriage now. My son Hansraj and another daughter Paramjit Kaur are young and studying. I hope that my husband comes back and shoulders the responsibilities,” she said.

First Published: Mar 21, 2018 10:14 IST