Iraq: Indian hostage killed? Govt turns to Saudi as efforts hit brick wall

With no apparent headway in securing the release of 39 Indians still in the custody of ISIL insurgents after they were kidnapped in Iraq's second largest town of Mosul, the Indian government on Sunday appeared to have pinned its hopes on the International Red Crescent in Iraq and on other countries in the region who may be able to offer help.

Sources said the government continued to be in "active engagement" and was doing everything possible to ensure the release of the Indians.

 Iraq: Indian hostage killed? Govt turns to Saudi as efforts hit brick wall

Relatives of Indian workers who were taken hostage in Iraq pose with photographs of their loved ones at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on 19 June 2014. AFP

Forty Indians were abducted from Mosul. One of them had fled from captivity and had shared details about the captors to the Indian authorities who on Saturday indicated that they had come to know details about the abductors.

Former envoy to Iraq Suresh Reddy, who was sent to Iraq, is also holding extensive talks with Iraqi authorities and other concerned organisations to secure the release of the Indians. India is understood to have requested Saudi Arabia also to help.

The government has already sought help from a number of countries in the region besides Iraqi authorities, the UN Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) and various other humanitarian agencies working in the trouble-torn country to resolve the crisis.

Meanwhile, a report in The Economic Times said one of the remaining 39 abductees may have been killed, though there was no confirmation of this.

Another report in The Times of India suggested that as many as 121 other Indians in Iraq are struggling to leave the country on account of not having a valid visa. The men, mostly youngsters from Punjab, had visas to visit Delhi and had illegally entered Iraq to look for work.

"Visas of at least 121 youths from Jalandhar and Fatehgarh Sahib have expired at least two months ago forcing them to stay back in the city of Karbala, about 100 km from Baghdad," the report said, adding that these youngsters had minimal food and water and were languishing in the basement where they had been locked in by the construction company that employed them.

Humanitarian groups including the Punjab Welfare Society of Kuwait have said the construction company has detained the boys illegally to avoid paying hefty fines if the government found out migrant labour was illegally employed.

AAP MP from Sangrur Bhagwant Mann is in touch with the families of these youngsters.

Iraq is witnessing serious strife with Sunni militants, backed by al Qaeda, capturing two key cities and marching towards Baghdad in an operation that started on 10 June.

The Indian government is also in touch with 46 nurses stranded in a hospital in Tikrit, another violence-affected city which also fell to the Sunni militant group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

It has already taken over several parts of Iraq and was advancing towards Baghdad.

The nurses are in a hospital and food was being provided to them.

A total of 120 Indians were in violence-hit areas in the oil-rich Gulf nation out of which 16 have already been evacuated and one of those kidnapped has fled from captivity. Now 103 Indians remained in the conflict zone including 46 nurses and 39 Indians in captivity.

The sources said securing release of the kidnapped Indians and moving remaining others from the conflict zone was government’s top priority.

Sources said government was offering assistance to a group of Indians, which, according to Amnesty International, was stranded in Najaf. The Indian Embassy in Baghdad was in touch with the company which reportedly refused to return passports to the Indian employees.

They said places like Najaf, Basra and Baghdad were free from any violence but noted that Indian embassy will provide assistance if Indians living in these areas want to leave the country.



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Updated Date: Jun 23, 2014 10:55:42 IST