Four plumbers from Odisha, working in Iraq, returned safely along with 137 others, to the peaceful atmosphere of their homes few days ago.
The workers today recounted their ordeal and how they escaped from Karbala, a holy place for Shia Muslims, in Iraq. A group of 137 workers from Odisha, Punjab, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and Haryana were engaged in construction work of a private hospital in Karbala.
"Of them, four are from Kendrapara and were employed as plumbers," said Madan Mohan Mallick, a native of Nadini Nagar near Pattamundai.
"Our employers were warm and friendly. They had assured us that Karbala being a holy place would not be hit by violence," he said, adding, but trouble started on July 2. "Bombardment, air strikes and gunfights were taking place about a km from our base camp. We could feel that death and destruction were not far away," he said.
"We were in our camp. Anything could have happened. A misdirected shell could have finished us. The horror continued till evening hours of July 3," recalled Mallick who, along with three others reached home three days back. "There was prompt response from Indian Embassy for our evacuation.
On July 8, Embassy took 90 people including us to the airport. We were escorted by armed Iraqi military men. We were flown to Baghdad airport on the same day," said Akshya Beura from Mohu village. "On July 9, we were flown to Delhi. And from there we travelled by air to Bhubaneswar, thanks to government arrangement," he said.
"God's blessings, prayer from dear ones at home and prompt government response led to our safe return," he said. "We have been getting good salary. But we have got a new life. We will never go back there. We are no more in a mood to risk our lives again," Beura said.