Millennium Post

India goes on overdrive to save 40 nationals in Iraq

India goes on overdrive to save 40 nationals in Iraq
India on Thursday said Iraqi authorities have identified the location of the 40 kidnapped Indians in Mosul town of strife-torn Iraq and assured that all out efforts will be made for their safe return. The government said there are in all 120 Indians in the violence-hit areas including those kidnapped, hailing from Punjab, Kerala and other parts.

Amid mounting concerns over safety of the kidnapped Indians and those stranded in other areas, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj chaired two meetings of the crisis management group and explored various options to deal with the ‘difficult’ situation.

The government said the Iraqi authorities have identified the location of the kidnapped Indians but no demand for ransom has been received. It was also not clear whether Sunni militant outfit ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), which captured Mosul, Tikrit and some other parts of Iraq, was behind the kidnapping.

‘We have been informed by the Iraqi foreign ministry that they have been able to determine the location of where these abducted Indian nationals are being held captive with workers of a few other nationalities,’ external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Reaffirming government’s strong resolve to secure release of the kidnapped Indians, Swaraj said they are ‘safe’. She said no stone will be left unturned to ensure safe return of all those who are in difficulty in the troubled areas. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal along with families of some of the Punjabi workers abducted in Iraq on Thursday met Swaraj and shared their concerns with her.
The families of the abducted workers impressed upon Swaraj to secure the early release of their kin kidnapped presumably by Islamic militants in oil-rich Mosul town of strife-torn Iraq. Badal, on his part, called for early action by the central government to secure the release of abducted Punjabi workers and assured the state government was ready to bear all expenses for their safe return home.

Swaraj assured the anxious families of all-out support and said the government would not leave any stone unturned in securing their early release. ‘We are making all-out efforts to ensure that all Indians return safely. We are leaving no stone unturned and whosoever is to be contacted, we have activated all of them. We guarantee to bring them back the moment there is normalcy there,’ she said.

Asked about the location of the kidnapped Indians, Akbaruddin did not elaborate but said there are some ‘leads’. ‘At this stage I will not be able to share information on either location of that place or what the Iraqi authorities have shared with us.’ He said no ransom demands have yet been received.
As government stepped up efforts to deal with the situation, former envoy to Iraq Suresh Reddy reached Baghdad and held meetings with Iraqi authorities.

The mass abductions have arguably presented the new government with the first big challenge since it assumed power last month.  Most of the abducted Indians, working for a Turkish construction company, hail from Punjab though a few are from Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
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