M A I N   N E W S

Quest for greener pastures leaves 8,000 Indians stranded in Iraq
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
Eight thousand Indians, who took the flight to disaster in search of greener pastures abroad but lost their bearings and landed themselves in trouble in Iraq, are yet to find their way back to where they belong.
And it’s not just torn passports and zero finances that are preventing so many of them from leaving behind the life of danger and drudgery. 

They are just not willing to take the flight to safety after bidding adieu to the perilous process of clearing landmines in a country suffering from the pitiable aftermath of a bloody war, as they have sold off their fertile agricultural land and raised loans back home that are to be paid off.

Among 60 Indians breathing the air of safety and freedom after return to India following the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s active intervention is Zoravar of Bhatalian village in Hoshiarpur.

He has brought back along with him from Iraq a bagful of sordid memories and tales of sorrow and pain. At Chandigarh Judicial Academy Sector-43 this morning, Zoravar said return was no option for at least some of the 8,000 left behind.

“They have raised loans and sold off their land. So many others just do not have money to buy back their freedom from a life of constant hazard. How can they come back?” Zoravar questions.

In a voice choking with deep emotion, Zoravar shudders as he says Indians back in Iraq have AK-47s pointed at them and their passports torn by ruthless strangers, who insist it’s easy to come, and very difficult, rather impossible, to return.

Nearly 21 others at the judicial academy have almost the same tale to narrate. They say the dreams of the Indians there come crashing down as soon as they find themselves in an alien land among a set of people they are not familiar to. They are pushed around, manhandled, beaten and have food literally thrown at them. They have to digest insult in case of refusal to eat impalpable foodstuff.

To make matters worse, they were offered $300 against the promised amount of $1,200 - that too is often not paid. And they are sold off like slaves.

Ripal Kumar of Khojpur in Jalandhar district says he did manage to escape from desolation and the lurking feeling of constant danger to join a furniture firm. But there too, it was a tryst with inhuman attitude.

Zoravar and Ripal Kumar are now among 13 para-legal volunteers all set to work at the district level in tandem with the Legal Services Authority under the guidance of Acting Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice MM Kumar.

Proudly displaying the newly issued identity cards, they say: “One’s identity is in one’s own country. Be the master of your own destiny in your country, instead of being just another faceless slave.” 





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