By: Shivangi Joshi
Families of the Punjabi youth ‘kidnapped’ by the ISIS in Iraq said on Monday that the Punjab government was not doing enough to get back them back.
In a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at the Punjab Bhawan, a group of almost 10 families from across the state said that while the nurses from Kerala had returned safely, their family members were stuck in Iraq with no news. An agitated Gurpinder Kaur from village Bhoewal in Amritsar told the CM that her brother, who has been ‘kidnapped’ along with 38 other boys had last contacted them on June 15 over the phone.“We have been waiting for the government to do something. But now my patience is thinning and I have come here to get some answers,” she said. “We want to know why Punjabi boys have not been evacuated,” she said. She added that she had been able to contact her brother through Facebook, proof for which she handed over to the officer accompanying the CM.
Other families also complained that no action was being taken by the government. Manjit Kaur, a resident of Nawashahar, said, “My brother-in-law had gone to Iraq eight months back. When we heard about the crisis we asked him to come back but we have not been able to contact him since June 13. We are waiting for action from the government.”
Assuring the families, Badal said that he will again meet the Union Minister for External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj and ask her to expedite the process of bringing back the youth trapped in Iraq’s Mosul region. The chief minister said he was personally maintaining contact with the central government, officers of MEA and special envoy of India to Iraq, Suresh Reddy, to ensure prompt return of every Punjabi stuck in Iraq.
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Badal also assured them that on its part the state government was making all efforts. He also spoke to Suresh Reddy over the phone to get the latest update. Reddy informed the CM that all the 39 Punjabis were safe and the government was exploiting all diplomatic channels to ensure an early release. The special envoy also apprised Badal that they were in touch with the owner of the factory where these workers were employed.
Meanwhile, on the CM’s asking, Reddy also spoke to a family member of one of the youth and assured her that the government was making all efforts to ensure safe release of their family members. Interacting with the families, Cabinet Minister Bikram Singh Majithia lauded the CM for taking steps to bail out the panic-stricken families from the crisis.