Gurpinder Kaur Cheem: Voice of 39 Families who Lost Family Members to Iraq

“We couldn’t even say goodbye to him", says Majinder's mother, who has been missing in Iraq for two years

Gurpinder Kaur Cheem. Image Source: Indian Express
  • Gurpinder Kaur Cheem has been desperately trying to get the Government’s attention through various means
  • She demands answers about her brother, and relatives of 39 other families who went to Iraq for work, but never returned
  • Majinder had traveled abroad in search for work to help in the family’s finances

Gurpinder Kaur Cheem, a 30 year-old teacher has taken to Twitter to try and get the Prime Minister’s attention.

  • “Today’s June 15. 2 years completed but 39 Indians missing in Iraq did not came back to their homes. When they will come back, Sushma.”
  • “Families of those Indians losing hope. Will they come back or not. What happens. Lots of questions but no ans. Who will give ans.”

The above mentioned tweets are examples of Gurpinder’s efforts to contact the government in order to get some clarity on the location of her brother Manjinder Singh, as well as the kin of the 39 families.

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“My request to the Prime Minister is that he should meet us at least once, listen to us,” she told The Indian Express, talking about her efforts to meet him, although in vain. “Some time ago, I managed to get the number for a senior official in the PMO,” she says, “and I called him. It was my luck that he picked up. I told him that I want to meet Modiji about my brother and the other boys, but he said that I should contact the MEA. After that I have sent many messages over SMS but there has been no response.”

Gurpinder said she had no clue about the Prime Minister’s trip to Qatar, where he spoke about Indian workers living in the country. The mother of a ten year old boy said she would have requested him to bring up the issue of her brother, since Qatar has some links with Iraq.

Ramadi, a city in central Iraq, declared as ISIS capital. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

It is suspected that the missing people have been abducted by the Islamic State in 2014, an idea that Gurpinder refuses to entertain.

Along with the other families, she had a meeting with Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj last year, but no other information about this has been provided to the families since then, said the express report.

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Her brother Manjinder had decided to go abroad for a few years to earn money so that he could help his family. Their father had to sell their land in Amritsar to finance their mother’s cancer treatment, so they moved to work on a rich relative’s farm. Manjinder got an opportunity to work in Dubai after failing his English test, which is a basic requirement for labor in the West.

According to Indian Express, the family had paid Rs. 2 lakh to Harjit Masih, an agent, to help Manjinder travel abroad for work. However, they withdrew their request and asked for the money back. They did not wish for Manjinder to work in a different country any longer. It was too late – Manjinder called up the family saying he was on his way to Dubai to work for some time – little did he know he would end up in Iraq.

Harjit Masih, in disappointing news, said that there was a fallout and the ISIS shot all the others. He himself escaped from the place safely. Masih is now in jail for human trafficking charges, but Gurpinder is not satisfied. She insists on knowing whether Masih was telling the truth about her brother’s murder by the ISIS. She has not given up hope yet, and she will not let the Government give up on her brother either.

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96



  • Vrushali Mahajan

    It is very disheartening to know this. All they can do is try to talk to people who have been in Iraq or have family members there or hope for the betterment and safe conditions of their relatives.