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Will hold dharna at Jantar Mantar if demands not met, say families of men killed in Iraq

The families also said that if the government does not meet their demands, they will not accept mortal remains of the deceased.

punjab Updated: Mar 23, 2018 20:21 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Indians killed in Iraq,dharna,victim families demand compensation
Family members of those killed in Iraq in Baba Bakala on Friday.(HT Photo)

Taking a tough stand, families of workers from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh who were among those killed in Iraq, on Friday threatened to launch an indefinite dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday if the government does not accept their demands by Saturday.

They also resolved not to accept the mortal remains of the deceased until the government — either the Centre or the state government — announces to give a job to one of the members of each victim family and an adequate compensation.

A meeting of the victim families from Punjab and Himachal Pardesh (HP) was held at a gurdwara in this small historical town, 40 km from Amritsar, to chalk out their strategy. As many as 27 victim families belong to Punjab and four to HP. Seventeen of them attended the meeting.

“We are in touch with all families of Punjab and HP. The remaining families could not reach here due to one reason or another. But they have given us a word that they will accept whatever decision is taken in the meeting,” said Gurpinder Kaur, sister of Manjinder Singh, one of the deceased, who took the initiative to mobilise the victim families.

“If the government fails to make any announcement on our demands by Saturday, all victim families will start a dharna at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Monday,” said Gurpinder.

Vijay Kumar, brother-in-law of Surjit Mainka, another victim, said, “We will reach along with our childern at Jantar Mantar.”

For negotiating with the government, they have formed an eight-member committee, which will represent all victim families. Besides Gurpinder and Vijay, Paramjit Singh, Davinder Singh, Manish Kumar, Pawan Kumar, Sunita and Pardesi Ram were included in the committee. Ram is brother of Inderjit, one of the deceased belonging to HP.

Not pressing for DNA evidence

They also discussed the role of the central government, especially the ministry of external affairs (MEA), in the entire episode. Though some victim families suggested that they ask for DNA reports from the government as evidence of death of their near and dear ones, but majority of them said such a demand would bear no fruit for them.

Most of them were of the view that this is right time to press for their demands as sessions of both Parliament and the Punjab assembly are going on and the government may announce something before the session end.

Gurpinder said the victim families are trying to make contact with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh, but have not got any response from them so far.

(The story has been updated)

First Published: Mar 23, 2018 14:51 IST