An alleged middleman involved in sending workers to Iraq has claimed that the abducted Indians “had a chance” to return to India before they were captured, but failed to take it after some workers from Bengal, who were part of the group, refused to leave until they had got their “salary and overtime pay”.
“The (workers’) employer warned them about the deteriorating situation and asked them to leave, even offering to pay for their tickets. But workers hailing from Bengal were adamant on taking their salary and overtime pay before leaving,” the middleman, who identified himself as Rajbir, told The Indian Express over the phone, probably from Dubai, on Thursday.
Rajbir, it is learnt, operated from Fatehgarh Churian to send Punjabi workers abroad. According to the family of one of the 40 men held captive, probably by the Sunni insurgent Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in Iraq, he is a resident of Ramdass in Amritsar district.
Rajbir refused to answer questions from The Indian Express about his operations, place of birth and residence, or even his surname. He did not confirm where he was at the time of the call, but his phone number and other inquiries suggested he was in Dubai, UAE. “The men had been working in Iraq for 10 months. There was no problem and they were earning handsome sums of money. But you never know when war breaks out. Their place of work was among the ones that bore the brunt,” Rajbir said over the phone.
“I spoke to Nishan when the problem started to assume grave proportions,” Rajbir said, referring to a resident of a village in Ajnala, who is among those suspected to have been abducted. “He told me that their employer had warned them to leave the county. But the insistence of the Bengali workers complicated things.”