Mumbaikars come together in tribute for the 39 Indians slaughtered in Iraq
NGO organises shraddhanjali at Bandra to slam terrorism
Children light candles for terror victims. Pics/Suresh Karkera
The choked road leading to Bandra Station (E) seems a world away from Mosul, Iraq. Yet, the controversy around the 39 Indians massacred in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), still simmering, with the Indian government being accused of 'covering up' the deaths, was brought home by a Mumbai non-profit called Jai Ho Foundation.
The three-year-old non-profit, that works for inter-faith peace and harmony held a shraddhanjali for victims at Bandra (E) on Wednesday. Commuters alighted from slow moving buses, and rickshaw drivers took their eyes off the road for a second to glance at a huge poster announcing prayers and a candlelight vigil near the station.
Advocate Adil Khatri, Afroz Malik, Maratha Khan.
Afroz Malik, president of the non-profit, distributed placards with the message: 'no to terror' and explained, "These are the lives that have been sacrificed at the altar of terror. In the West, a country shakes when even one person dies. Here, we do not have that sense of outrage. The government needs to create more job opportunities so that people are not forced to go to dangerous nations for a livelihood. Why was an account by an eyewitness Harjit Masih, who had told India four years ago that the men have been killed, dismissed?" asked Malik.
Imran Mansuri from Kurla, said, "We do not accept that our government did not know about these Indians in Iraq initially. If a dangerous situation develops, our people must have recourse to some way out."
One participant said, "The children may not know what has happened, but, by looking at these posters they will imbibe the message — against ISIS, against terror."
Bandra boy Mohammed Faiz said softly, "terror is wrong, though I do not know anything about the Indians killed in Iraq." A Std III student Abid Shaikh from Naupada held up an anti-terror placard for photographers and then asked all wide-eyed, "What happened there?" For Kurla resident Maratha Khan, "The Shraddhanjali is to send a message to the victims' families that we feel their pain. It is important for the nation to express that empathy and tell families we are with you."
Advocate Adil Khatri said, "It is vital that the ex-gratia announced by the government (Rs 10 lakh by the Central and Rs 5 lakh by the Punjab govt) reaches the families. They should not have to deal with red tape and a million enervating formalities."
Mohammed Shoaib Khan signed off with, "This catastrophe is an eye-opener to the fact that Indian workers abroad need help and support. We are showing support in our own small way to their families."
Killed in Iraq
Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament on March 20, that the Indian government had found DNA proof of the deaths of 39 Indian workers who went missing in June 2014 from Mosul, Iraq, after ISIS took over. Her announcement ended years-long speculation, but sparked outrage.
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No information on 39 Indians missing in Mosul, says Iraq's Ambassador to India