Parents worried about Punjabi youths stranded in Libya

February 25th, 2011 - 2:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, Feb 25 (IANS) With the uprising in Libya becoming more violent by each passing day, fear and concern spread among families in Punjab whose near and dear ones are stranded in the strife-torn north African country.There are hundreds of Punjabis, including youths, working in Libya. Back home, their parents spend anxious hours, worrying about their safe return.

These distraught parents are pinning their hopes on the state government and social organisations as they have neither the resources nor contacts to ensure their children’s safe return.

Hundreds of people have been reported killed as the revolt against Moammar Gaddafi’s regime has spread across Libya. According to reports, the fighting between Libyan opposition groups and the government forces has moved closer to capital city Tripoli.

Kuldeep Kaur, a resident of Amritsar, told IANS: “My husband went to Libya about a year back. He has not earned anything for the last several months. He told me that they were running for life in the jungles and are forced to sleep in the open.”

“I don’t know what to do. I am quite helpless. I am seeking the help of Lok Bhalai Party (LBP), an NGO. I have sought help from the state government too,” she said.

According to the LBP, which is working for the rights of Indians stranded abroad, over 200 Punjabi youths, in the age group of 21 to 30 years, are stuck in Libya.

“I had paid over Rs.100,000 to a travel agent to send my son to Libya in December 2009. I have not been able to talk to him for the last one week and I am very worried about his safety. Earlier he had told me that there was no shelter and he and his friends were spending nights on roads and in parks,” Mahinder Singh, a resident of Patiala town, said.

LBP officials said they have taken up the issue with the authorities and they are working for the safe return of those men.

“These men are from different villages in Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Patiala, Jalandhar, Ferozepur and Mohali districts,” Avtar Singh Mullanpuri, senior vice-president of the LBP, told IANS.

“Most of them had gone to Libya on work permits after paying up to Rs.200,000 to unscrupulous travel agents. On reaching there, they realise that they have been cheated and are left with no jobs. They are forced to live in very inhuman conditions,” Mullapuri said.

He pointed out that they have taken up the issue with the Punjab government and with the Protector of Emigrants (POE) here.

Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has also urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene in the matter.

“The Punjab government has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to ask the external affairs ministry to arrange immediate safe evacuation of thousands of Punjabis stuck in Libya due to the civil war,” said Badal.

He added: “It is unfortunate that the union government is not taking adequate measures for the protection and evacuation of Punjabi youths. However, the Punjab government is taking every possible measure for their safety and well-being.”

The union government has said that the evacuation of Indians from Libya by air and sea would commence immediately.

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