AMRITSAR: Fighting off their tears, family members of the eight people from Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts confirmed dead in Iraq today, recounted their struggle over the past nearly four years for authoritative information about them.
The eight people from the two districts in Punjab were among the 39 Indians abducted by the Islamic State terrorist group in 2014.
Their whereabouts had remained uncertain until now and the families had hoped they would see them alive.
That hope unexpectedly shattered today.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj confirmed in the Rajya Sabha today that the 39 Indians were killed in the Iraqi city of Mosul, liberated from the dreaded group in June last year.
Following the confirmation, a pall of gloom descended on the bereaved families.
Gurwinder Kaur's eyes were moist as she unsuccessfully tried to hold off her tears.
For past 4 yrs EAM was telling me that they were alive,don't know what to believe anymore.I am waiting to speak with her,no information was given to us,we heard her statement she made in Parliament: Gurpinder Kaur, sister of Manjinder Singh who was among 39 Indians killed in Iraq pic.twitter.com/fwNqRoRPUG— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
A resident of Mehta village, she said her brother Manjinder Singh had gone to Iraq for employment.
"One day, I got a telephone call from my brother from Iraq, informing he was stuck and it seemed difficult to come out of the unpredictable circumstances due to terrorist activities," she said.
The Union government, she said, offered her empathetic words over the years "but nothing was done by the government.
" In October last year, relatives of the eight Punjabi-origin people had visited the Government Medical College in Amritsar to provide DNA samples for matching with the Indians stuck in the war-torn country, if required.
At that time, they possibly did not know their biggest fear would come true within the next five months.
We had got information that that my brother was abducted by terrorists, after that nothing was know about his whereabouts. My DNA test was done twice, but we received no information: Brother of an Indian national who was killed in Iraq's Mosul #Jalandhar pic.twitter.com/rouCGmxInt— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
"I had an intuition when the government asked us to go for DNA tests.
I knew something serious has happened to my brother, but the government was not willing to (disclose the purpose of collecting the DNA samples).
This news has crushed everything to the ground," Kaur said.
My husband went to Iraq in 2013 and he was kidnapped in 2014. We don't demand anything from the government. I have a small child, I have no support: Wife of Surjit Kumar Menka who was killed in Iraq's Mosul #Jalandhar pic.twitter.com/2AdMq6yhXJ— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
Balwinder Kaur from Manochahal village in Tarn Taran district too struggled to hold back her tears.
Her son, Ranjit Singh, is among the 39 Indians declared dead.
"Being a mother, it is difficult to bear the permanent separation from my son. Nobody from the Indian authority was in a position to tell me the plight of my son," she rued.
My husband went to Iraq in 2011&I spoke to him last on 15 June'14. We were always told us that they were alive. We don't demand anything from the government: Manjeet Kaur wife of Davinder Singh, who was among 39 Indians killed in Iraq's Mosul #Jalandhar pic.twitter.com/Vq983kCkSb— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
Gurmeet Kaur from Jallalusma village in Amritsar district said she was informed via a telephone call that her brother Gurcharan Singh was "stuck in bad circumstances" in Iraq.
He left for Mosul in 2013-14. They had been saying that all of them are alright and now they say this. I don't even know what to say: Harjit Kaur, wife of Gurcharan Singh, who was among 39 Indians killed in Iraq's Mosul. #Amritsar pic.twitter.com/YMN2PxGATC— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
She said nobody informed her about whether he was dead or alive, and today she was told her brother was killed by ISIS.
I don't know what to say. Since 2014 I had been pleading with the govt to bring him back somehow and today they say that he is no more: Puroshottam Tiwari, Uncle of Vidya Bhushan Tiwari, who was among 39 Indians killed in Iraq's Mosul (#Bihar, Siwan) pic.twitter.com/FoHDYvV6hH— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
According to the two district administrations, the eight persons declared dead in Iraq were Nishan Singh, Ranjit Singh, Harsimran Singh, Manjinder Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Sonu, Jatinder Singh and Harish Kumar.
He had left for Iraq in 2013. He used to talk to me every Friday. Govt kept saying that they are all safe. What demand do I make from them? I have already lost him.: Rajesh Chand, father of Aman who was among the 39 Indians killed in Iraq's Mosul (#HimachalPradesh's Kangra) pic.twitter.com/FfUGTUxnVg— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
Addresing the media soon after her statement in Rajya Sabha, Swaraj did not give a direct answer to when the 39 Indians were killed.
She said it was irrelevant as the bodies could have been recovered only after Mosul was freed from the ISIS.