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Family prays for missing supervisor

Patna, June 19: The families of the Indian men stuck in the Iraq crisis are having a trying time holding their nerves.

Nine days ago, 40-year-old Mustafa Kamaal Hashmi chatted with his family in Bihar on the Internet. A resident of Tikri mohalla of Aurangabad district, around 110km south of Patna, a worried Hashmi, based in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, had said things were not at all good in the country and that could very well be his last contact with the family.

Hashmi had asked his family to stay calm. Since then the panic-stricken family back home has no information about him. The tension has caused the family of five retreating into a shell of insecurity and uncertainty.

After repeated requests, Class IX student Gauhar (14), Hashmi’s eldest son, said things had turned difficult for the family suddenly. “There is no information about my father for nine days now. We had last chatted with him on the Internet on June 11 morning. My father had said the Internet connection would collapse shortly and that could be his last chat with us. We had tried to contact the company for which he works but got no help,” said Gauhar.

Mustafa left for Iraq in March after landing a job with the Calethon group as an electrical supervisor. Headquartered in Switzerland, the company has its presence in many countries, including Iraq. The company specialises in emergency relief, mining, construction and oil sector among other sectors.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), said to be an offspring of al Qaida, has been indulging in widespread violence and killings in many Iraqi cities. With heavy fighting been reported between the government troops and the ISIS, the group has abducted at least 40 Indians in Mosul. The ISIS has also released a video recently showing the chilling shooting of government troops and there is information about the extremists approaching Baghdad.

“After we heard about the fighting in Iraq, we all grew worried. We tried to contact the Iraqi embassy in India and the Indian embassy in Iraq but in vain. Mother has been crying most of the time. Being the eldest, I have to take care of my siblings,” added Gauhar.

He said one call or contact with his father would lift their spirits. “We have appealed to all for help, which has not come. Even the district administration has not helped. We want our father safe and with us as soon as possible,” said Gauhar.

Shock and awe prevailed in Gopalganj district, 200km northwest of Patna, too.

Gopalganj district magistrate (DM) Krishna Mohan said the administration had received an email from around 10 people who claimed to be stuck in Basra. “We are acting on the email. It says all of them work for the Lukoil, West Kurna, Phase-2 project and were stuck in the city because their company was not helping them get back. The mail carried names of Naushad, Purnachand, Imran, Rizwan, Asgar, Ramchandra Gupta, Saqir and others. But there are no local contacts or addresses. While the administration has started searching, we have apprised the home department’s branch in Delhi and the labour department of the matter. We are trying to locate their local addresses,” said the DM.