Kin left with damaged hearts, empty pockets

The 39 knew that working in a war-torn region would be dangerous, but felt it was a risk worth taking financially, considering the state of joblessness in . However, the move went horribly wrong and the families have not only lost their loved ones but are also monetarily worse off now, reports Yudhvir Rana.
“Fate took my son away and left me with nothing,” Harbhajan Kaur, the mother of Harsimranjit Singh, tells TOI. “The government must think of giving us jobs,” says , wife of another slain youth, Sonu.

Other families want the government to announce a rehabilitation package for them.

Relatives left with broken hearts, empty pockets

Joblessness in Punjab had driven many of the young men from the state to the Middle-East. They knew about the dangers of a war-torn region but felt it was a risk worth taking if it improved the lives of their loved ones. Today, these families left behind in India have not only lost a loved one but also seen their lives become far worse.

Harbhajan Kaur, whose son Harsimranjit Singh is among those killed by IS, was forced to open a small shop outside her home in Babowal village in Amritsar to make ends meet once her son stopped sending her money. In May last year, she had met external affairs Sushma Swaraj in Delhi with other family members and refused to accept her son was among those killed. “But fate took my son away and left me with nothing,” she says.

Sonia, wife of another slain youth, Sonu, a resident of Chavinda Devi near Amritsar, was forced to become a housemaid and has now got herself a sewing machine. “Government pays us Rs 20,000 per month but it comes irregularly,” Sonia says. “It is relief, not a longterm solution. The government must think of giving us jobs.”

The families are upset with Swaraj. Gurpinder Kaur, resident of Bhoewal village, whose brother Manjinder Singh was among the 39 men, feels it is strange that Swaraj chose to declare the deaths in instead of first reaching out to the families. “We met her several times but she never bothered to inform us about the deaths and instead broke the news on TV channels,” Kaur said.

“We were told government had confirmed the men were alive from six to eight sources, but suddenly, Swaraj is saying they are all dead. This is unacceptable,” Kaur said.

Urging the Centre to announce a rehabilitation package, Purshottam uncle of Bidya Bhushan Tiwari, resident of Siwan in Bihar, told TOI on Tuesday, “If the government gives us some compensation, it will make life easy or I will beg on the streets to keep his family alive.”

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