Assuring all help to the families of the Indians stranded in the war-torn Iraq, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj appealed to the relatives to trust the government. “We are doing our best to safely bring back all the Indians stranded in Iraq. We request the people to pray to God and have trust in us,” the External Affairs Minister said.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also met Sushma Swaraj along with the family members. Addressing a joint press conference, Badal said that he has been briefed by the government on the steps that are being taken. “I am thankful to all the officers who are working on this whole issue. This is the issue related to the whole country now,” he said.
Before meeting Sushma, he also dismissed reports that the Punjab government is ready to pay any ransom to bring back the Indians that have been stranded in Iraq. “There is no question of paying ransom. The state government cannot directly intervene in the matter,” he said.
Reports say that at least 41 boys from Punjab along with other Indian residents are stranded in Iraq. Families of these boys had approached the Indian embassy in Baghdad as well as officials in the Ministry of External Affairs.
The MEA on Thursday confirmed that they have information of the Indians who have been abducted in Iraq. However, they refused to reveal any further details in the matter claiming that it is a highly sensitive issue.
“Our embassy in Baghdad is following up with Iraqi Ministry. There are several meetings that are planned between Indian Ministry and Iraqi Embassy. We do have an understanding of the location but I will not be able to tell the location as of now,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
While assuring that the government is giving highest priority to the issue, he maintained that “there is no safety in captivity”. 40 Indians have been kidnapped presumably by the ISIS from Mosul town of Iraq. According to sources, India has been conveyed that the nationals who were kidnapped are alive.
Several Indians have been stranded in different parts of Iraq, which is facing a grave danger to its very existence. The fanatic Islamist organisation ISIS has taken charge of Iraq’s second largest city Mosul. It has committed terrible atrocities and is now moving towards the national capital Baghdad to overthrow the elected government.
According to an estimate, thousands of Indians are working in Oil and construction industry across Iraq. There are many Indians, who are working in the healthcare sector. Iraq is witnessing serious strife with militants, backed by Al-Qaida, capturing various cities and marching towards Baghdad.
Meanwhile, the Congress issued a statement condemning the grave situation in Iraq. “The recent sudden and violent developments in Iraq have caught the countries of the region and the world by surprise. The escalation of conflict has severely undermined the peace and stability in Iraq and the region. It also poses a grave threat to tranquility in the region. The deteriorating situation is a matter of grave international concern. The Indian National Congress strongly condemns the abductions of the Indians,” he said.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa also wrote a letter to PM Narendra Modi over the Indian nurses who are trapped in Iraq. She requested him to personally intervene and take up the matter at the highest level in Iraq and to secure the safety and security of Indian nurses including six who hail from Tamil Nadu.