The people of the Pakistani town of Bandli are processing the news that as many as 24 young men from their community might be among the hundreds of migrants who are believed to have perished in the tragedy that occurred aboard a boat traveling from Turkey to Greece last week.
The hamlet, which is home to around 15,000 people, was in a state of grief as families presented DNA samples in an effort to identify victims among the 82 that were recovered from the disaster that occurred on Wednesday in the Ionian Sea.
Approximately 95 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Islamabad in the portion of Kashmir that is ruled by Pakistan, a procession of visitors came and departed from the houses of families who were in misery.
The parents sat about aimlessly on the street, and the funeral prayers had not been spoken quite yet since there was still a glimmer of hope.
Shahnaz Bibi stated that she had a phone conversation with her son Inaam Shafaat, who was 20 years old, the day before the rusty and overloaded boat set off from Libya into the seas of the Mediterranean Sea on the world’s deadliest migrant route.
“I asked him about the weather in the morning, and he said it was cloudy. “I tried to warn him not to get on the boat, but he wouldn’t listen to me,” Bibi, who was in her 50s at the time, stated while having a sample of her DNA taken at the nearby hospital.
“Mother, I leave you in the care of Allah,” he told her, “He said. “Pray for me,” she said to AFP, her voice raspy from crying as she wiped her eyes with her shawl to prevent any tears from falling.
– Send another son – Authorities in Europe still do not have a precise idea of how many people were aboard the boat when it sunk. Estimates range from 400 to over 700, but it is certain that hundreds of passengers were from Pakistan. The majority of these passengers were from the most populated Punjab province and Pakistan governed Kashmir.
More than 75 families have so far registered a missing member who is thought to be on board, according to an official from the country’s Federal Investigation Agency who spoke with AFP.
Reporters were told by Sarfraz Khan Virk, a senior officer with the FIA in Lahore, that after prior incidents of this kind, many families have been uncooperative with investigators and have refused to give statements.
“They said that we want to send a second son and that we will suffer if you file a case,” he added. “They said that we want to send a second son.”
“There are families that have already sent one brother to Italy, and after trying to send their second brother there, they want to send their third brother there as well. Therefore, we have a lot of problems, and the people aren’t helping us out too much.
The nation is in the throes of a devastating economic crisis, marked by out-of-control inflation, stunted growth in industry and imports, and a plummeting rupee that is making it more difficult for people to make ends meet.
Bandli, which is located in an area of Pakistan ruled Kashmir and is surrounded by beautiful rolling hills, has a long history of serving as a launching point for migrants, who are increasingly pushed to embark on hopeless journeys in the hopes of escaping suffering.
Islamabad claims that 15 people have been detained so far for alleged connections to the disaster, and the eastern area is home to a burgeoning black market for human traffickers.
What took place with our brother is unacceptable and must never ever place again. Waheed Wazir, 38, whose younger brother Imran, 32, has been missing for over a year, stated that human trafficking has been on the rise and that it will not end.
“Those involved in the trafficking of people ought not to be let go after being captured. They ought to be shamed in public so that nobody will ever have the courage to act in such a manner again.
The local district’s assistant commissioner, Sardar Mushtaq Ahmad, has verified that 24 persons have been reported as missing from the region.
The routes that migrants take from Pakistan to Europe are fraught with danger. Because the trip is illegal, travelers frequently have trouble maintaining contact with their families, and the nature of the journey further pushes them to keep a low profile.
The bulk of the passengers are said to still be missing at sea, therefore the families of those aboard the Bandli are clinging to the final words that they were able to hear from their loved ones.
My son had informed me that they were in the process of boarding the boat when he told me this. “The weather was not good,” said Tasleem Bibi, 48, who was already suffering the loss of her son Akash Gulzar, who was 20 years old. “My son was killed.”
His voice rapidly deteriorated to the point that he was unable to continue speaking.