Is Working in Iraq Worth the Risks?

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj announced a few days ago that 39 Indians, abducted by ISIS in Mosul, are dead. This news left the nation in shock.

So let’s go to the depth of it. The first question that I had in my mind when I heard of it was, that why do Indians go to the countries like Iraq and Iran even after knowing the conditions. The answer that I found, was not so pleasant. We all are aware about the population of India and hence, the job crisis. Many people are jobless. So people who can’t see their families dying due to lack of food and want to support their families with all the energies they have are the ones who take these risks of going to countries like Iraq for work and to earn some food for their families rather than watching them die.

But is working there worth the risks?

The most disturbing thing is that many of them don’t even know about the present conditions of these countries and get to know their mistake only after arriving there. These people don’t have enough money to go to countries like US, this is why they choose to go there.

Indians going to Iraq for work is something that has been happening for years, even after it was banned. But Indians in Iraq getting kidnapped and killed by ISIS is something nobody had ever expected.

So what is the hidden story behind it. Let’s find out.

There are two groups of Indians that I am going to talk about. One group, of 46 nurses from Kerala and the other, of 40 Indian workers, who were working in Mosul.

The first group of 46 nurses was also abducted by ISIS but fortunately they were rescued without any harm.

They came back to India, even the Chief minister of West Bangal came to receive them.

But the other group was not so fortunate. This group consisted of 40 Indians from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bangal, and Bihar.

They went to Iraq to work in a company and their family members had a hope that they will come back one day. But it never happened. They were shot by a terrorist organization.

Now let me tell you Iraq was not like this from the beginning.

The time period between 2010 to 2013 was relatively a peaceful time in Iraq, but ISIS had other plans. The fall of the second largest city of Iraq, ‘Mosul’ occurred between 4 June to 10 June on 2014. This was one of the most haunted times. After a civil war of about 5 days ISIS took charge of this city and was moving on for other cities. Many civilians, migrants and soldiers were killed in this war. But when the army of Iraq started getting weak. Many soldiers started escaping from the town dressed as civilians to save their lives as if they knew they were going to lose. ISIS stranded many people in different parts of Iraq including many Indians. They took possession of the airport, tanks and other areas of the city, closing every path of escape.

Those 40 Indians were amongst those people who sensed the fear few days prior to the aftermath. When they asked others, what was going on, everybody told them that it was nothing and that it would get over soon. But nobody knew that this was not one of those usual domestic fights.

The families of those 40 people were not able to get in contact with any of them since 2014. Nobody knew if they were alive or dead but after one month, one of the workers came back to India and with him came a haunting news of the others being dead.

The lone survivor Harjit Masih, who escaped from Mosul with Bangladeshis said, ” We knew something was not right but others said that this will get over soon. One day some of the ISIS members came to our company and told us that they will take us to India. We 40 Indians with other 50 Bangladeshis went with them. They took us to an unknown place and told us to wait there until we got our passports. They gave us food, we waited there for almost two days.

Then next day they again took us to a place and handed us to another group. There they separated Indians and Bangladeshis. Then they took other 39 workers along with me to a place and told us to sit in a line. They took our phones and the money that we had. And shot every one. The bullet didn’t penetrate me but went away touching my skin. I pretended to be dead until they went away.

When they were gone I got up. Called the names of my companions to check out if any of them was alive. But no one answered so I ran away to save my life. I reached a road and waited for some vehicle to come. A taxi came, I got in and told the man to leave me to a safe place as I was in grave danger. He handed me iver to some truck driver who had many weapons. I was afraid to go with him but I had no other choice. He took me back to the people from whom I was escaping.”

“They asked me my name, I lied and said that my name was Ali and that I was from Bangladesh. They gave me the assurance that they’ll take me back to my company and not harm me. I was so afraid that I couldn’t eat. The other day they dropped me to my company. There I went to meet a man whom I knew, asking him to help me to escape. I told him that all the others are dead but he didn’t believe me. I showed him the wound that I had on my leg due to the bullet. He helped me to escape from there with other Bangladeshis.”

He told everyone that the others were dead but nobody believed him. Not even the government or the families of the other 39 people and Sushma Swaraj said that she couldn’t say anything about their death unless she got any concrete proof. She said she had six other sources who were sure that they were alive.

This was the story of year 2014. Since then all the families waited long enough to get any news about their loved ones. They hoped that they were alive but captured somewhere in a prison. But all of their hopes broke when on Tuesday Sushma Swaraj announced about finding their dead bodies in Iraq. She said that from the DNA test 38 out of 39 dead bodies had been confirmed and one of them was still to be confirmed.

But as always apart from helping those families to get out of this devastating time, opposition parties are using this news to blame BJP. This is not a blame game but a serious issue. 39 people were killed in ‘reality’ by a terrorist organization. It’s not some kind of story. Think about their families who were hoping for them to return.

Congress wants Sushma Swaraj toto  and apologize to the families for giving them false hopes since 2014.

Well, nobody’s apologies or sympathies are going to get them back what they have lost. Their wounds are irreparable.

But you know what is the most concerning issue? It is, the root of this problem. Which is, poor Indians not getting jobs in India.

They are under debt and to pay off their debt they need money, right!

This is what compells them to go to places like Iraq to find a way to earn for their families.

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