Six Punjabis return home, others in Iraq ‘safe’, says Sushma Swaraj
Punjabis hailing from Gurdaspur district, who were stranded in strife-torn
Iraq, have returned home safely even as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj
on Saturday assured that all the Punjabis in Iraq were safe.
Jaswant Singh, a
resident of Balewal village, Shamsher Singh of Sallo Chahal village, Satnam
Singh of Natt village, Parhlad Singh of Aliwal village, Surinder Ram of
Puranshala village, and Major Singh of Thikriwal near Qadian, all in Gurdaspur
district, returned to their homes safely last night.
They travelled to
their homes in Gurdaspur district after landing at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi
International Airport. It was a touching scene when Jaswant Singh reached his
home amidst tears rolling down his face as his elder brother had died of heart
attack a few days back after learning about the strife in Iraq.
He told reporters
that after the recent strife in Iraq, his company neither paid him the salary
nor his dues and only provided him with a return air-ticket to India.
Jaswant's family, he had gone to Iraq two years back and was working as a
labourer in a company. He was stranded with other Indians after ISIS fighters
took over the area where he was living.
Talking to the
mediapersons during his ‘Sangat Darshan’ programme in Lambi assembly segment in
Muktsar district, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said that Sushma Swaraj
had informed him over phone in the morning that all the Punjabis in Iraq were
safe. He said that his government was constantly in touch with the Centre to
ensure the safe and prompt return of all Punjabis stranded in Iraq.
With nearly 200
people from Punjab stranded in Iraq, the state government has decided to bear
the expenses for bringing them back safely and also reimburse the expenses
incurred by distressed families for making phone calls to Iraq, an official
spokesman said earlier in the day.
Knowing well that
making frequent international calls was a costly affair, the Chief Minister has
decided that the state government would repay the entire expenditure incurred
by them on making these calls, he said.
The Punjab Government
had on Friday submitted a detailed report to the External Affairs Ministry
about the 200 Punjabis stranded in Iraq.
BJP chief Kamal Sharma said that NDA government was making all out efforts to
ensure the safe return of Indians working in Iraq and expressed satisfaction
with the diplomatic efforts made in this direction so far. Punjab Congress has
also started a helpline at its party headquarter in Chandigarh.