Bahujan Samajwadi Party chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on Friday described the civil war like situation in Iraq as very grim, and said that it was unfortunate that Indian citizens who had gone there for jobs, were victims of it.
In an exclusive interview to ANI, Mayawati said: "There is a civil war-like situation in Iraq. Our Indian nationals residing there are also victims of this. We got to know that at least 40 people were abducted in Iraq and there is no trace of them. There are thousands of Indian workers working in Iraq and people here in India are also concerned for them. In this hour of need our party stands with the central government."
"But besides this, our party appeals to the Centre to be serious on this issue and should take timely steps. There shouldn't be any carelessness in this issue. We are with the (NDA) government in working towards getting our people who are stuck there back. They should not stop at anything to rescue them. We request the Central Government to take serious and strong steps to ensure the safe return of Indian citizens from Iraq," she added.
Mayawati's reaction came a day after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj met the families of the abducted Indians in Iraq, and told them that the government will make every effort to rescue those who have been stranded. Swaraj's assurances came in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Iraq workers caught between rock and hard place
On the night intervening Sunday and Monday, amid the fierce fighting in north Iraq, aid worker Saleh Dabbakeh saw gunmen stopping trucks carrying foreign workers employed in local construction firms. The workers, mostly Egyptians, Turkish and Indians were heading towards safer places to avoid getting caught in the crossfire between retreating government forces and ISIL militants.
Dabbakeh, a foreign national in Iraq, immediately informed the headquarters of International Committee of Red Crescent (ICRC) in Baghdad, who in turn informed various foreign missions, including India. Dabbakeh, whom dna contacted, said if the workers had stayed back, just like 46 Indian nurses did in Tikrit, they could have avoided being abducted. "Travelling on roads in this region is very dangerous," he told dna on the phone from the outskirts of Mosul. dna head several gunshots during an intermittent telephone conversation with Dabbakeh on Thursday. READ MORE
On Friday, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari had said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj would their all to secure the safe release of the 40 Indian hostages in Iraq. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has introduced a 24*7 helpline for the Indians trapped in Iraq. The MEA had also confirmed that the location of the trapped Indians is being tracked; however, they have not been able to track the trapped nationals.
On Thursday night, residents in Amritsar held candle light vigil in support of the abducted Indians in Iraq. They also held up placards which called on the 'nation to unite and save the people of AHBRO.
Pressure builds to get nurses out
Not a month into his tenure and prime minister Narendra Modi is facing his biggest challenge to date. Forty Indian construction workers have been kidnapped from Mosul in Iraq. And 46 Indian nurses are under siege in a hospital in Tikrit. One of the nurses reminded Modi of his "duty" as prime minister. "When the floods wrecked havoc in Uttarakhand last year, Narendra Modi as chief minister of Gujarat, sent a special flight to evacuate pilgrims from his home state. Now as prime minister of India, it's his duty to evacuate his countrymen trapped in a foreign war zone," nurse Marina M Jose told the Dubai-based Khaleej Times. READ MORE