The 18-month wait for news of Indian workers who went missing from Islamic State-captured Iraq territory is threatening to rip apart one family in Amritsar district. Parents of a woman whose husband is among the 39 missing want her to get remarried, straining her relations with her in-laws who cling on to hope based on government promises to trace him.
“How can we allow this? What if our son is alive as the Indian government is telling us regularly? They must have something to believe that my son is alive,” says the mother of the 32-year-old missing man, adding that she had not spoken to her daughter-in-law or her family in four months. Neither of the families wants to be identified.
The woman’s parents want her to marry her husband’s cousin, according to her in-laws. “We want to believe he is alive. But the parents of my daughter-in-law have been forcing us to marry her with my nephew, who is unmarried. They threaten us that they would get her married off anyway if we do not say yes to my nephew,” the mother says.
While denying they were putting pressure on the in-laws regarding the nephew, the woman’s father says his 28-year-old daughter’s future is at stake. She has a two-year-old daughter, born after her husband left for Iraq in 2013.
The woman and her husband’s family divide the Rs 20,000 a month assistance the Punjab government provides to the next of kin of the missing men. “No man would like to see his daughter in such circumstances. How long can we wait? We need to take a decision about her future,” the woman’s father told The Indian Express.
Forty Indian workers had gone missing in war-torn Mosul in June 2014. Soon after, one of them, Harijit Masih, managed to escape. He was kept virtually in detention by Indian security agencies after his return, and soon after his release, had said he had seen the remaining Indians being killed. While the news had dismayed the families of the 39, the government had urged them not to go by Masih’s claim.
Parvinder Singh alias Lucky of Chauni Kalan village in Hoshiarpur district, whose brother Kamaljeet Singh is among the 39 missing and who is a virtual spokesperson for the families, says he doesn’t blame either the parents of the woman in the above case, nor the husband’s. “Neither of them is at fault. Anyone can understand their situation,” he says. “We have had nine meetings with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, and we have been seeking another appointment. Every time, she has given us the same answer. They never give us new information. It is a difficult situation to live with.”