Indians killed in Iraq: 11-year-old son lights father’s pyre in Amritsar village
Seema, 28, a resident of Chawinda Devi village, 20 km from Amritsar city, was the last member of the family to hear from Sonu, her husband, whose remains were among those that arrived at the airport on Monday. His words from Iraq that hot day in June 14, 2014, still ring in her ears, “We have been detained and are being taken to different places. The city is tense. I will talk later.”
Sonu was 24 then. On Monday, an inconsolable Seema fell, almost fainted, as she saw their 11-year-old son, Karan, light Sonu’s prye at the village’s cremation ground about 4.30pm.
Hundreds of people attended the cremation. Before performing the last rites, Karan was heard saying, “I wanted to see my father a last time, but my hope has been dashed.” Her mother had also wished the same and wanted to open the casket that carried the body. However, officials did not allow them to do so, saying that it could be dangerous.
At the cremation, only Seema’s cries could be heard, “Where will I go, now with my two children? Sonu was everything for us.”
Later, she told reporters that she had no confirmation from any government official on whether the family would be given compensation and a job. “Now, I am totally dependent on the government. It must fulfil its promise of a job and compensation. We need help as soon as possible.” Sonu is survived by Seema, son Karan, 11, daughter Arjun, 9, and mother Jeeto.
Earlier in the day, there was much confusion over whether families could open the caskets in view of the government advisory that said these should not be opened, as poisonous gases could come out. Union minister VK Singh had said people should follow the advisory, but they could open the caskets. He, however, repeated his warning that this could be dangerous as forensic experts had used toxic chemicals during the process to establish identities of the bodies.