A DAY after the 39 Indians reported missing in Iraq since June 2014 were declared dead, two of their families in Nawanshahr district faced further trauma on Wednesday. They spent the day waiting at the Amritsar airport, after the district administration told them on Tuesday evening that the remains would arrive by morning.
On Tuesday evening, Nawanshahr Deputy Commissioner Amit Kumar issued a note stating that the remains of two of the dead — Parvinder Kumar of Jagatpur village and Jasbir Singh of Mehandpur village — would arrive at the Amritsar airport at 10 am on Wednesday. He assigned two officials — Executive Engineer, Powercom, Ranjit Singh, and Police Inspector Sawinder Pal — to accompany the families to the airport.
“The Deputy Commissioner visited us at around 8:30 pm on Tuesday and told us the bodies would arrive at the airport on Wednesday morning,” said Jeet Ram, father of Parvinder Kumar. He said the ambulance arrived at 5:30 am, and two of his relatives, Parvinder’s maternal uncle Kashmir Singh and father in-law Surjit Singh, left for Amritsar.
But on reaching the airport, they were told that there was no information about the remains arriving today. By then, the two families had made arrangements for performing the last rites, and all their relatives had been informed.
“We returned home at around 4 pm,” said Kashmir Singh.
“We had informed all our relatives that the bodies were coming today. All of them gathered here, as we wanted to carry out the cremation today,” said Jeet Ram.
“We have been waiting for the last four years. Now that they have been declared dead, this wait is getting longer,” said Bakhshish Ram, father of Jasbir Singh.
“The government should not play with our emotions,” said his wife, Surjit Kaur.
Deputy Commissioner Amit Kumar, when contacted, said the misunderstanding arose because some officials were disseminating the information verbally.
While informing the Rajya Sabha about the deaths on Tuesday, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said that Minister of State, External Affairs, General (retd) V K Singh, would bring the remains back from Baghdad on a special aircraft after all the formalities were completed.
The men are believed to have been killed by members of the Islamic State during their attack on Mosul — the terror group was ousted from the city last year.
Meanwhile, families of the other victims questioned the delay in bringing the remains home. “When the government has already declared them dead, it should bring the bodies back as soon as possible. We cannot wait anymore,” said Kamaljit Kaur, wife of Roop Lal from Bath Kalan village.