“Din chad janda te Raat pe jandi hai, Pher Raat pe jandi hai te din chad janda hai.” (The day rises and night falls. The night falls and then the day rises.) This is how Harbhajan Kaur (49) describes her life since her son Harsimranjit Singh was taken captive by the Islamic State in Iraq along with 39 Indians in June 2014. But in the past few weeks, Harbhajan Kaur and her husband Tarsem Singh have been excitedly working the phones to the families of the other victims. The reason: Iraqi security forces are now in Mosul, the Iraqi city from where their son was captured. If Iraqi troops liberate Mosul, the families believe, there are chances that their family members, will be found.
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This is what the government too has led them to believe. On October 6, the families had met External Affairs Minister Sushma Sawraj, who told them that Mosul would be liberated from IS clutches soon, and that would help them find out what has happened to the missing men. Most of the families belong to Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur districts.
Like always, the Harbahjan and Tarsem start the day at 6 am. They switch on the television for the live telecast of the Gurbani from Bangla Sahib Gurudwara in Delhi. After the Gurbani is over, they switch over to France 24 and DD News.
On Wednesday, Harbhajan Kaur was worried that the the air strikes by Iraqi forces on Mosul should not end up harming her son.
“The war on the ground is not that dangerous as air strikes are. Iraq forces have been making air strikes into Mosul. Someone has told me that air strikes are made after confirming location and civilians are not hurt. But then air strikes have demolished all the Aleppo city in Syria,” said Harbhajan Kaur, displaying uncommon knowledge about the West Asia for a resident of a village in this corner of Amritstar.
The couple own a small shop which is located in the house. They also have two acres of land which they have just harvested for paddy.
“Gurdeep Kaur, my English teacher at Senior Secondary School Amritsar, was as very good teacher. It is due to her that I am able to read and understand English language to some extent. I am following France 24 for the last two years,” Harbahjan says. “I prefer DD News and France 24 news channels for Iraq war news. Both telecast news with facts. Other channels sensationalise the war news.”
“I have seen in news that Islamic State has burnt the oil reserves and it created lots of smoke. As many as 1,100 people were hospitalised for breathing problems,” she says.
A few other mothers of missing youths are in touch with her because she follows the news so closely. “Because I understand news a little better than them, they keep calling me. The number of times we call each other has increased ever since the Iraqis forces went into Mosul. I also keep asking my daughters on phone about more information,” Harbahjan says.
She says that like her, her son was also a bright student too and had obtained 70% marks in +2 non-medical. “But the economic condition of family forced him to go abroad.”
“My son was found of driving since his childhood. He had found his dream job in Iraq as he was working as driver. He was very happy with his job.”
“During our last meeting, Sushma Sawraj had shown us a two-page letter from her source which read that 39 missing Indians were seen in Mosul. She didn’t give us a copy because she is under oath. We had a two-hour-long meeting with her last time on October 6. She talked to me personally. She is very confident”.