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Indians Missing in Iraq: Families Swing from Hope to Hopelessness

Earlier this month, Sushma Swaraj had assured Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that her ministry was making all-out efforts to trace and facilitate the return of the 39 Indians.

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Mosul, Iraq
39 Indians still remain missing from Mosul Iraq. Wikimedia
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  • Iraqi Foreign Minister on Monday said that he was not sure if the missing Indians were alive or not
  •  Families of 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul town three years ago are still keeping their fingers crossed
  • A Punjab government official said that they were in touch with the External Affairs Ministry “to ensure that all efforts are made to trace the missing Indians and to get them back home safely”

Chandigarh, July 26, 2017: Families of 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul town three years ago are still keeping their fingers crossed even after Iraqi Foreign Minister on Monday said that he was not sure if the missing Indians were alive or not.

“We can only hope for the return of our loved ones. We have been going through this torture for the past over three years,” said Manjit Kaur, whose husband Dalwinder is among the missing men.

“The minister (Sushma Swaraj) told us that things are settling in Iraq and the area, where the 39 men are said to be held hostage, could be cleared in the next 2-3 months,” said Kaur, who had met her in New Delhi last week along with families of the other missing men and been assured that all efforts were being made to trace the missing men.

Visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who met Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi on Monday, later said: “We’re not 100 per cent sure if they’re alive or not. We don’t know, but we’ll do our best.”

ALSO READ: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Wants Canada to Rein in Radical Sikh Elements

Sushma Swaraj had, earlier this month, also assured Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that her ministry was making all-out efforts to trace and facilitate the return of the 39 Indians.

Other affected families, who all are from poor backgrounds from different parts of Punjab, say that they have nothing but to pin hopes on the government’s and the minister’s assurances.

“The families are in a bad shape with children and old parents to fend for. Their respective bread-winners, who had gone to Iraq to earn money are not safe. The families are hardly able to sustain themselves despite government help,” said Balbir Singh, friend of one of the missing persons.

Meanwhile, a Punjab government official said that they were in touch with the External Affairs Ministry “to ensure that all efforts are made to trace the missing Indians and to get them back home safely”.

A man from Punjab, Harjit Masih, who escaped from the clutches of IS terrorist organisation in June 2014 had claimed that all 39 Indian nationals who were taken hostage on June 11, 2014 in Mosul town had been killed.

However, the External Affairs Ministry had maintained that it had no information confirming that they were dead. (IANS)

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Punjab’s Aam Aadmi Party and Its Political Self Goals

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey

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Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals
Punjab's Aam Aadmi Party Is In Confusion, Due To Political Self Goals, Flickr

For a political party that was taking a serious shot at coming to power in Punjab less than two years ago, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) appears to have gone wayward.

Despite the electorate in Punjab reposing trust in the party by making it the principal opposition in the first ever assembly polls that it contested in February last year, the party leadership in Punjab and in Delhi have brought it to a new political low with a series of flip-flops and self-goals.

The AAP, which has 20 seats in the 117-member state assembly, relegated the formidable political alliance of the Shiromani Akali Dal and BJP to a humiliating third slot but is fast losing its votebank in the state.

In recent by-elections, be it for Lok Sabha or assembly seats, the AAP candidates have not only fared badly but had to face humiliation by even losing their security deposits.

In the Shahkot assembly seat bypoll last month, the AAP candidate got a mere 1,900 votes.

Each one of the top leaders in the AAP Punjab unit is on its own journey while the Delhi leadership of the party, including AAP national convener and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab in-charge Manish Sisodia, show wariness, indifference and even suspicion about the Punjab leaders.

Senior AAP leader and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly Sukhpal Singh Khaira is known to shoot off his mouth on every matter. His recent comments justifying the ‘Referendum 2020’ propped up by foreign-based radical elements who are demanding a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan, has sparked a new controversy for him and the AAP.

Khaira, a former Congressman, has left the party embarrassed on earlier occasions as well.

Just about two years back, the AAP was riding high on popularity in Punjab and many believed it was all set to form its first full-fledged state government.

That was not to be Kejriwal and his core group of leaders seem to have lost interest in Punjab affairs for now. Kejriwal’s apology to senior Akali Dal leader and former cabinet minister Bikram Singh Majithia earlier this year, which happened without even consulting the Punjab leadership of the party, led to resignations within the party with the cadres on the ground feeling disappointed.

AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.
AAP has scrapped the list of its Donors, leading to its own volunteers launching a Chanda Bandh Satyagraha against their own party.

AAP Punjab unit president and MP Bhagwant Mann, who has had his own string of controversies earlier, and co-president Aman Arora, resigned from their posts after Kejriwal’s sudden apology.

Kejriwal and other AAP leaders, in the run-up to the 2017 assembly polls, had openly accused Majithia of patronising the drugs mafia in Punjab. They even called him a “drug lord”.

When Majithia went to court in a defamation case against the AAP leadership, the Delhi leaders chickened out and Kejriwal wrote an apology letter to Majithia.

Offering apologies and doing voluntary service (kar seva) to atone for political sins is nothing new for AAP leaders.

The ‘Youth Manifesto’ of AAP, released before the assembly polls, carried a photograph of ‘Harmandir Sahib’, the holiest and most revered Sikh shrine of Sikh religion, with an image of a broom, the AAP’s party symbol. This led to a religious uproar in Sikh dominated Punjab.

Kejriwal and other leaders washed utensils at the Golden Temple complex to “atone” for the political and religious faus pax.

AAP leader Ashish Khetan compared the same manifesto to religious scriptures like Granth Sahib, the Bible and the Gita. The AAP had to again seek forgiveness for this.

The AAP’s stand on sharing of river waters varies in Delhi and Punjab, leaving the party embarrassed at times.

Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017
Chanda Bandh Satyagraha back in Delhi after successful Campaign in Punjab, Feb 24th 2017

The electorate in Punjab, which gave four seats to AAP (out of 13 Lok Sabha seats), has been left disaapointed. Two of the AAP MPs continue to be suspended from the party for the last three years.

Also read: Dogfight in Aam Aadmi Party : The audio clip of Kumar Vishwas reveals the party is no longer for principles but for personal aspirations

If AAP is to revive its position in Punjab, its leadership — in Punjab and in Delhi — would have to take drastic steps to stop the erosion of its base. Otherwise, the party would end up being a one-time wonder. (IANS)