KOLKATA: While Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy took up the issue with the Centre and ensured the return of 46 nurses, families of workers from West Bengal who are trapped in Iraq are upset over the state government’s inaction. They have now decided to seek the help of state BJP leaders for their intervention with the Ministry of External affairs.
Samar Tikadar, 40, and Khokon Sikder, 45, both carpenters from Nadia district, are being held as hostages by ISIS militants at Mosul in Iraq, and their families had last heard from them on June 13.
Their wives Dipali and Namita on Friday told Express, “Since the BJP is in power at the Centre, we will approach West Bengal BJP leaders to plead our case with the Centre, which had secured the release of the nurses and some other workers in Iraq.”
Khokon’s wife Namita alleged that the state government did not seem to bother about workers from West Bengal as they were poor, and lauded the initiative of Chandy.
Samar’s wife Dipali said, “We have appealed to the state government through the district administration, but no action has been taken yet. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, we watched on television, took the initiative for the return of the nurses. But our Chief Minister has not taken up the issue with the Centre. Has the life of a construction worker no value?”
She said both the families had been trying to contact Samar and Khokon through phone everyday, but there was no response. “I have been calling my husband everyday, but his mobile has been switched off. I do not know in what condition he is at Mosul,” said Dipali.
The Tikadars have two sons and a daughter, while the Sikders have a daughter studying in Class IX and a four-year-old son.
Fear of insecurity further gripped them, with reports coming in from the country about people being killed, and the experience of 26 workers from Nadia and North 24 Parganas districts of the state who returned from Iraq to the city on Wednesday. These workers were trapped in Basra and helped by the Indian Embassy. They returned along with the nurses from Kerala.
Recounting his horrible experience in Iraq, one of the returnees Shamad Mondal, who also hails from Nadia, said, “We went to Iraq as the agency promised us a good pay but we were not paid. Each day after work only a packet of rice was given to us. But women with children would come and knock our doors for food. We could not refuse, thinking of our children back home.”
His neighbour from Ullashi village in the same district, Shamidul Mondal said, “We are lucky. They don’t have food at home but children play with guns! Killing for food is child’s play for the Iraqis. There is not even clean drinking water.”