JUNE 15 — that’s the date they were taken captive by the ISIS, that’s the date everyone mentions when you ask when was the last time they spoke with their relative in Mosul. And then there is silence that quickly gets filled with fear, despair and “all kinds of stories.” From the men made to work in a factory to being asked to haul ammunition.
The Indian Express tracked down several families who are waiting for news from their relatives, most of them working as construction workers, among the 40 gone missing in Mosul. And each had the same story: a call over 60 days ago saying all was well and then silence.
* “From 10 am to 3 pm on June 15, I made several calls to my brother. He told me that they (he and all the other Indian men) were in the custody of ISIS militants. He told me that the militants were giving them food. He also told me the militants were saying that they would send them back to India. But he told me that he was not sure what was going to happen with them,” says Gurpinder Kaur, sister of 24-year-old Manjinder Singh who is missing and a resident of Bhoewala village in Amritsar.
* For Charanjit Singh of Gurdaspur, the last call was June 18 when he heard from his brother Nishan Singh, 28. “He said he was safe in ISIS custody but that his cellphone was running out of power. There has been no word from him since and we are terrified what might be going on, given that we are hearing all kinds of stories”.
* Raman Thakur, brother of 29-year-old Aman Kumar, lives in Passu village in the Kangra and is currently in Ludhiana. “I had a telephonic conversation with my brother Aman last time on June 15 at about 7:30 pm. He told me that he was in the captivity of ISIS militants but was all right. The government is saying that it is doing its level best to secure the release of abducted men. We have no option but to trust them.”
* Mother Ranjit Kaur of Sialka village in Amritsar says she was the one who called her son Jatinder Singh — his phone had run out — and he told her that the militants had told him to carry his baggage with him. “The Government is telling us that our children are safe. We can only believe if we get some proof of that,” says Kaur.
* Harbhajan Kaur of Babowal village in Amritsar, mother of missing man Harsimranjit Singh (23), says she last spoke to her son on June 15 when he called her up at 3 pm that day. “He told me to take care of his father. There had been tragedies in the family where I had already lost my two brothers and perhaps my son did not want to give another shock to me, so he did not tell that he was in captivity. Upar vi taan ik continued…