Indians missing in Iraq: Families swing from hope to hopelessness
Chandigarh, July 24 (IANS) Families of 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul town three years ago are still keeping their fingers crossed even after Iraqi Foreign Minister on Monday said that he was not sure if the missing Indians were alive or not.
“We can only hope for the return of our loved ones. We have been going through this torture for the past over three years,” said Manjit Kaur, whose husband Dalwinder is among the missing men.
“The minister (Sushma Swaraj) told us that things are settling in Iraq and the area, where the 39 men are said to be held hostage, could be cleared in the next 2-3 months,” said Kaur, who had met her in New Delhi last week along with families of the other missing men and been assured that all efforts were being made to trace the missing men.
Visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who met Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday, later said: “We’re not 100 per cent sure if they’re alive or not. We don’t know, but we’ll do our best.”
Sushma Swaraj had, earlier this month, also assured Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that her ministry was making all-out efforts to trace and facilitate the return of the 39 Indians.
Other affected families, who all are from poor backgrounds from different parts of Punjab, say that they have nothing but to pin hopes on the government’s and the minister’s assurances.
“The families are in a bad shape with children and old parents to fend for. Their respective bread-winners, who had gone to Iraq to earn money are not safe. The families are hardly able to sustain themselves despite government help,” said Balbir Singh, friend of one of the missing persons.
Meanwhile, a Punjab government official said that they were in touch with the External Affairs Ministry “to ensure that all efforts are made to trace the missing Indians and to get them back home safely”.
A man from Punjab, Harjit Masih, who escaped from the clutches of IS terrorist organisation in June 2014 had claimed that all 39 Indian nationals who were taken hostage on June 11, 2014 in Mosul town had been killed.
However, the External Affairs Ministry had maintained that it had no information confirming that they were dead.