The sister of a Punjabi youth abducted in Iraq has written to the government, saying her brother is in custody of militants who have promised to let all the Indians go “safely without any conditions” if New Delhi gets in touch with them.
Gurpinder Kaur is leading the interaction of the families of the abducted youths with the government. Her brother Manjinder Singh is among the 40 Indian workers abducted in Mosul, possibly by Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), whose fighters have been leading the sweeping insurgency across Iraq.
“My brother Manjinder, who is trapped in Mosul (during last phone talk on 15.06.14) told me that representatives of ISIS (which are taking care of them) are ready to help them for their retrieval back to India, but they need somebody authorised person of Govt of India, so that they can hand over all the Indians to Govt of India safely without any condition,” Gurpinder wrote to the Indian ambassador in Baghdad this week.
A copy of the letter was sent to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. Swaraj spoke with Gurpinder over the phone on Wednesday morning. The minister reportedly assured her of help from the government to secure the release of the stranded youths.
“We are with you. We are already handling the matter. Not only Punjabi boys, but we will bring all the Indian boys back,” Gurpinder quoted Swaraj as having told her.
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Gurpinder was among the five families from Amritsar district who on Wednesday gathered at Bhoewal, Manjinder’s native village, and offered prayers in the village gurdwara for the safety and well-being of the abducted youths.
In her letter, Gurpinder wrote that the 40-odd Indian men working with the Tarikh Noor Ul Huda company “were under the care of ISIS since June 11 and had been taken out of Mosul to some unknown location”.
She said on Wednesday that whatever she had written was based on what she had learnt after speaking to her brother Manjinder on June 15, the last time the families had any contact with the abducted youth.
Balkar Singh, a resident of Sialke village, said his son Jatinder Singh had told him on June 15 that they were all right, and that the family should not talk about them to anyone. “My son also told me that they were given food. I do not know whether he was saying so under some pressure,” Balkar said.
Jatinder’s mother Ranjit Kaur said her son told her that “most of the employer company officials had fled after things deteriorated, and one of the officials had told them to get their passports after breaking open the company’s office. They did break the lock, and got their passports, but these were then taken away by the people who took them in their custody”.
Harbhajan Kaur, the mother of 22-year-old Harsimranjit who is a resident of Babowal village in Amritsar district, said, “Those who have the custody of my son and other youths there had told them that they had no enmity with them. I pray that my son returns home safely.”
The family members of the stranded youth said that they had paid more than Rs 1 lakh each to travel agents to send them abroad.