Kejriwal, kin of Indians stranded in Iraq demonstrate for safe return of their loved ones
Families of Indians stranded in Iraq on Tuesday held a demonstration along with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal, urging the central government to ensure speedy and safe return of their loved ones.
Distressed relatives of workers stuck in war-torn country converged at Sikh temple, Bangla Sahib, in New Delhi, holding photographs of their loved ones.
The families said they were not in contact with their children for past one month and were not even sure if they were safe.
"My elder son is there. I appeal to the government to at least make me talk to my son. I want to know if he is safe or not. We request the government," said father of a stranded worker, Chander Mohan Singh, who came from Bihar.
About 10,000 Indians work in Iraq, mostly in areas unaffected by the fighting, but scores of them have returned to India since Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) began its offensive.
An old woman, Surinder Kaur, who is waiting to see her son, said last time she spoke to him was on July 15. Kaur's son had called her and asked her to take care of her grandchildren.
She is enraged by government's insensitivity and inaction and demanded proof of her son's well being.
"Government has not fulfilled any of our demands till now. They keep on saying that the workers are safe but have they gone and seen? They should give us proof of their safety. They are just sitting here and saying things. We will not believe them till we hear their voice or see a video of them. If government authorities' children are stuck there, will they still be sitting doing nothing? Children of poor people are stuck there that is why no one is doing anything," she said.
Meanwhile, AAP chief Kejriwal along with party leaders, present at the Sikh temple, also urged the government to help the families.
Kejriwal appealed to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to visit crisis-hit Iraq and help bring back Indian workers.
"The manner in which the government used its diplomatic channels to rescue stranded nurses, it should do something to bring back other people too. We urge the government to speed up its efforts. Like Bhagwant Mann said, if U.S. Foreign Minister can be in Iraq, our foreign minister can also go there and make efforts," said Kejriwal.
46 Indian nurses, who were abducted by suspected Islamist militants in Iraq, were brought back home in southern Kerala state.
AAP MP, Bhagwant Mann, claimed he submitted a list of workers stuck in Iraq to Union Minister General V.K Singh.
"Our lawmaker from Patiala, Dharamvir Gandhi, met Sushma Swaraj regarding the Iraq matter. Moreover, I have spoken twice or thrice on the issue urging government for swift action. In fact, I have handed over a list to General V.K. Singh of details of people stranded in Iraq, their employers and locations where the men are stranded," said Mann.
The ISIL and other Sunni Muslim militant groups have seized towns and cities across Syria and Iraq in a lightning advance.
(Posted on 22-07-2014)