A day after 46 Indian nurses returned to Kochi in Kerala from war-torn Iraq, a special chartered flight carrying 200 more Indians from Najaf landed at the Delhi International Airport on Sunday morning.
“The situation is very bad in Iraq. We thank the Indian embassy, they helped us in getting back to our home,” said one of the Indians who returned.
In the next 48 hours, another 400 Indians are expected to return to various destinations, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, through commercial flights, Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
This is the second batch of Indians that has returned from the war-torn Iraq. On Saturday, 46 nurses and 137 others returned on board a special Air India flight from Erbil. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy received the nurses at Kochi airport.
The nurses were held captive by the Sunni insurgent group ISIS in Iraq. They were freed on Friday.
As they emerged at the airport after getting off the flight, their family members thronged them. “I thank god for keeping my daughter safe. She had gone to Iraq to make our lives better,” the mother of one nurse said.
The nurses told reporters they had no complaints about their treatment by the rebels. “They did not misbehave with us,” said one of them. “I want to thank everyone who helped us in getting out from there, including (Foreign Minister) Sushma Swaraj,” added another.
Besides the 46 nurses, the flight also brought back over 80 Indian workers rescued from Kirkuk in northern Iraq, 52 from Telangana, 24 from Andhra Pradesh and four from Tamil Nadu. From Kochi, the plane headed to Hyderabad where these workers disembarked. The plane, with the remaining Indians, then went to New Delhi.
While the nurses have been brought back safely, 39 Indian construction workers kidnapped two weeks ago in Mosul remain in captivity. About 10,000 Indians work in Iraq. Scores of them have returned to India since fighting began.