Iraq violence: With prayer on their lips, families of abducted Indians wait

New Delhi : Manjeet Singh last called up home 10 days ago before he was abducted. He, along with 39 other Indian nationals, was kidnapped by Sunni militants in Mosul in northern Iraq that is in the throes of an intense sectarian conflict that has raised question marks about the future of the country. There has been no news of him since then, said his teary-eyed mother.

Manjeet, 30, is married, with two kids, and belongs to Punjab.

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“He went to Iraq 11 months ago to work as a sanitary worker. He would phone up regularly. But since that call 10 days ago, there has been no word from him ,” Jeeto Kaur, his mother, told IANS.

Jeeto was part of an agitated delegation of relatives of the abducted Indian nationals who came to meet External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the ministry’s office here Thursday.

“He was our only source of livelihood. The minister has assured that my son and the others are all fine. We pray that they are rescued early and are able to return home,” she said.

Manjinder Singh’s mother is a cancer patient. She last spoke to her son on Sunday, and there has been no word from him since then, she said.

Manjinder’s sister said her brother, who worked as a driver, had called up to say they are fine and being looked after properly by their captors. “But he and the others all want to return home,” Gurjinder Kaur told IANS. She was part of the delegation that met Sushma Swaraj along with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and representatives from the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

“They are all my sons. I am worried for all of them,” said Bibi Taran Kaur, the mother of one of the Indians held captive, when asked the name of her son.

According to Parminder Pal Singh, spokesperson of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which brought the relatives of the abducted Indians to the capital, the Indian workers were kidnapped June 12-13.

“The captives are being looked after and being given food by their Iraqi captors… This is what we have learnt. The government has assured us that it is doing everything to secure their release,” Pal told reporters.

The Indians, who mostly belong to Amritsar, Batala, and Gurdaspur areas of Punjab, were working as drivers, sanitary workers and construction labourers in Mosul in Iraq, that has been taken over by militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The DSGMC released the names of five of the kidnapped Indians. These are Manjinder Singh, Jatinder Singh, Sonu and Simran Singh from Punjab and Aman from Himachal Pradesh.