The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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From debt to death trap

Makrauna Kalan (Ropar), July 22: The debt-ridden family was waiting for the Rs 25,000 Sukhdev Singh had promised to send. That was till this morning, before villager Madan Singh told Harbinder he had seen his brother Sukhdev’s picture in a paper.

All they want now is news of the 26-year-old’s wellbeing. Sukhdev is among the three Indians taken hostage in Iraq.

Sukhdev left for Kuwait on April 17 this year to drive 15-wheel trucks for KGL Transport Company. He would receive a monthly salary of Rs 18,000.

Sher Singh’s frail frame is racked by sobs as he speaks of his son sitting in his crumbling two-roomed kachcha house on the outskirts of the village. “Wahe guru ka aasra hai… wohi bachayenge,” he mumbles.

“The government must intervene and save their lives. With great hopes we had sent our son abroad… Little did we know we would have to face this,” he says.

The 72-year-old ailing farmer sold one-third of his three-acre landholding to raise Rs 3 lakh, the fee of a Chandigarh-based agency, to send Sukhdev to Kuwait.

“We thought he will work in Kuwait and earn money there to support his family, but look what fate had in store for us,” Sher Singh said between sobs.

Harbinder last spoke to his brother on Friday. “I am fine and settling down,” Sukhdev said while promising to send the money within two weeks.

He spoke of an earlier trip to Iraq, but did not say anything about another one.

“We are poor and helpless. The government has not even come forward to inform us of Sukhdev’s capture. He went to Iraq to earn his bread. What does he have to do with such violent people'” asks Harbinder, a truck driver himself.

The 34-year-old argues his brother went to work in Kuwait, not Iraq. “He drives a truck for KGL in Kuwait. They sent him to Iraq and now the terrorists are holding him. Our government should speak to the company and get my brother out of this mess,” he adds.

Sixty-five-year-old Pal Kaur, her right eye clouded by cataract, is despondent. She says her son has done no harm and no harm should come to him.

“Please carry my appeal to the government. I want my son back,” she says with her hands folded.

Harbinder’s wife Karamjit sheds silent tears. She is also worried about her brother Swaran Singh, who works with Sukhdev in KGL.

“We have not heard from Swaran either,” she says. “If he can read this or see it on TV somewhere, he should just leave his job and come back. I want both of them to come back. Sitting here we can only pray.”

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