Having spent lakhs of rupees to send their family members for a “foreign job” in Iraq, family members of the men from Punjab killed by ISIS in Mosul are facing a bleak future with the main bread winners of the family gone.
The family of Surjit Mainka, resident of village Churuwali in Jalandhar, said they had spent Rs 4.5 lakh for sending the 35-year-old to Iraq. “We go abroad to earn money. So we didn’t mind borrowing money for sending him (Surjit) to Iraq. As a labourer he worked there at a company for 10 months before capture by the ISIS in June 2014. Now not only have we lost Surjit, but the amount borrowed for him has also gone up to about Rs 9 lakh. We really don’t know how to return this money now,” Surjit’s wife Manjit Kaur (36), told The Statesman over phone.
She said her husband had little apprehension of his tragic end even though the atmosphere had been tense in Iraq since the rise of ISIS at that time. “His employers didn’t give the passport back to let him come back and asked the staff to stay indoors to avoid any mishap. But then one day ISIS kidnapped all of them,” she added.
The family members of another victim, Rakesh, a resident of Qadian in Gurdaspur, had spent over Rs 2 lakh to send their only son abroad.
“He used to work as a construction worker there and earn about Rs 20,000 a month. Four months were all he worked before his kidnap (by ISIS). I am also a daily wage worker and we have no land. So this Rs 2 lakh is a big amount for me and I don’t know how will I will manage life after this,” he said.
Most of the victims’ family members said they were in touch with them till about 15 June 2014 when things changed all of a sudden. Jeet Ram, father of Parvinder Kumar, a resident of Jagatpur village in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar district, said his son was promised good work in Mosul.
“He used to work as a welder and we paid Rs 2 lakh to an agent in Hoshiarpur to arrange a work visa in Iraq. But first he was forced to work as a domestic servant and then sent to Mosul to work in a company,” he said.
Most of the family members of those killed by ISIS in Iraq have been contacted by the concerned district administration and told to be ready to collect their mortal remains in Amritsar.
Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj informed the nation on Tuesday that all 39 Indians who went missing in the war-torn Iraqi city of Mosul in 2014 had been confirmed dead. As many as 24 of these men were from Punjab where foreign jobs are a craze.