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Free phone calls for families of Punjabis stranded in Iraq

IANS 21 Jun 2014, 14:05:24 IST
IANS
Chandigarh: The Punjab government Saturday announced it will foot the bill of phone calls made by family members of Indian men from the state who are stranded in strife-torn Iraq.

A spokesperson of the Chief Minister's Office said frequent international calls being made by the panic-stricken family members of the trapped people was a costly affair, and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal decided that the state government would repay the entire expenditure incurred by them on making these calls.

"Badal has directed state government officers to take necessary steps to ensure that every single penny spent on this must be repaid to the distressed families immediately after they submit their valid claims to the concerned authorities," the spokesman said.

Badal said the state government would bear the entire expenditure of bringing the trapped people back to their homes safely.

Over 200 men, mostly youth, from Punjab are stuck in the oil-rich nation which is witnessing fighting since early June. Some of them have been taken hostage by insurgents while others are missing.

Over 40 Indians, mostly from Punjab, were kidnapped by June 11 in northern Iraq's Mosul town.

Most Indian workers in Iraq are construction or skilled workers.

Punjab's NRI Affairs Minister Tota Singh said that till Friday evening, more than 200 families rang up the control room, giving details about their relatives stuck in Iraq.

Of these Indians in Iraq, the highest number 29 are from Jalandhar, 28 from Kapurthala, 23 from Amritsar and 22 from Gurdaspur districts.

In neighbouring Haryana, the state government Saturday said it had information on 127 men from the state who are stuck in Iraq.