Hindu youths in Iraq beaten, auctioned to clear landmines

Chandigarh, September 6: This is a shocking story of a bunch of Punjabi youths who were lured to wealthy jobs in Iraq. According to a report in The Tribune, these Punjabi youngsters were brutally beaten and thrashed with batons, apart from being burnt with cigarette butts while putting up in the war-torn Iraq. The Sikhs amongst them were asked to shave off their hair. Moresoever, their passports were taken away.

It had taken an intervention by a Punjab and Haryana High Court Division Bench headed by Justice M M Kumar for the return of ten of them to their homeland.

We watched helplessly as we were put in vehicles and taken from one city to another after being bought over again and again by people – the identity of whom we never knew, Ripan Kumar was quoted as saying to The Tribune. All we knew was that on each transaction, the seller would gain $ 200, he further added. Ripan along with the other youths were speaking in the Sector 22 office of the Punjab State Legal Services Authority.

Shells and bombs were strewn across the fields like potatoes and other veggies,” 22-year-old Tehal Singh of Hoshiarpur was quoted as saying to The Tribune. Every time my reluctant fingers went up to pick a shell or a bomb, something exploded in my head and I would find myself offering prayers to the Lord above, Tehal added.

After hearing from different people about the brighter prospects for jobs in Iraq, they took loan by mortgaging properties and gold. But little did they know about the ordeals they were going to face in Iraq.

In Baghdad, and other cities of Iraq, they were worked hard in the fields to uproot bombs that were previously planted during the war time. Apart from it, they were auctioned for $ 400 each to clear the landmines.

Apart from Ripan and Tehal, Â Kamaljeet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Gurminder Singh, Prem Pal and others were present in the office of Punjab State Legal Services Authority.