Family tells of trauma after Abu Dhabi attack killed village hero

Hardev Singh from India’s Punjab was helping a friend with a job placement minutes before he was killed

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Villagers in northern India say their lives will never be the same after an attack on Abu Dhabi by Houthi rebels killed a man who was a friend to all of them.

Hardev Singh was well known to the villagers of Bagha Purana in Punjab’s Moga district, who knew they could turn to him when they needed help

His elder brother Sukhdev Singh told The National that Hardev was speaking to a friend minutes before starting work at an Adnoc storage depot that was hit by an explosion on January 17.

Sukhdev said his parents had not come to terms with their son’s death. The UAE has said it will support the families of the victims financially.

My parents keep asking for him. I have told them to see his face in mine. What more can I do?
Sukhdev Singh, brother of blast victim Hardev Singh

The 35-year-old was one of three drivers killed and six injured when tankers went up in flames following a Houthi strike on the UAE.

“He always wanted to do good. If someone didn’t have a job, he would help the family. He didn’t have much but he always wanted to help,” Sukhdev told The National from the family home in Bagha Purana.

“He spoke to a friend at 8am about news he had about helping another boy in the village get a job. He said he had arrived at work and would speak to us later. There was no later. That was the last conversation he had with us. His friends cannot forget this.”

Hardev was 18 when he arrived in the UAE to work. He had several jobs before settling into tanker driving.

He shared several photos with his family of the lorries he drove and of his residence in Abu Dhabi.

Hardev Singh was one of three men who died when Houthi rebels struck an Adnoc oil storage depot in Abu Dhabi on January 17. Courtesy Hardev Singh's family

“It is too much of a trauma for my parents,” Sukhdev said.

“We don’t know how they will recover. They keep asking for him and we are trying to give them all the support we can.

“I have told them to see his face in mine. What more can I do?”

Prayer meetings are being held in his family home and the village gurdwara for Hardev.

Like the families of the other victims, relatives find it difficult to comprehend why their loved one died.

World leaders and governments have condemned the attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on civilians in Abu Dhabi.

The UAE has said it reserves the right to respond to the attack that leaders have described as a heinous terrorist strike.

“We cannot understand why did this happen to my brother,” Sukdhev said.

“This never happens in UAE, it’s a safe place. Why did it happen that day and why did it hit my brother? There are no answers for my family.”

Updated: January 31, 2022, 6:28 AM