Indian hostages in Iraq: Indian envoys, Gulf envoys to brainstorm in Delhi

iraq-indian-punjabThe situation in Iraq continues to be relentlessly grim, with 39 Indians continuing to languish in captivity for more than two weeks. Against this backdrop, India has called all Indian envoys of Gulf countries and ambassadors of these nations stationed in Delhi for a brainstorming session to map the way forward for rescuing Indian hostages.

There will be two separate, but linked meetings, on the situation in Iraq in Delhi June 29.  The meeting will be chaired by India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. India’s ambassadors to Gulf countries will first meet to review the situation relating to plans for the rescue of Indian hostages as well as take a big picture of the situation in the Gulf country, which is being threatened by rapidly advancing Sunni militant group, called the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Later, Indian envoys will be joined in by ambassadors of Gulf countries in Delhi at an interactive luncheon meeting, said Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of India’s external affairs ministry in Delhi June 29.

Providing an update on the efforts by the Indian government to release Indian hostages, the spokesperson said that camp offices have been set up in the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Najaf and Basra to assist Indian nationals in Iraq. Indian officers will offer all types of assistance, including providing travel documents, resolving issues of contractual nature with employers of Indian nationals and free air tickets to the indigent who can’t afford to fly back on their own.

Reacting to reports about the Indian Navy deploying a warship in the Persian Gulf to evacuate Indian nationals, if need be, the spokesperson added that all national assets are in readiness to assist Indian nationals in distress. Around 10,000 Indians are reported to working in Iraq. Out of this, around 100 Indians are currently stranded in conflict zone.

“We are on the ground and will be on the ground. We continue to knock on all doors, front doors, back doors, and trap doors. We must stand united in this national endeavour,” the spokesperson said when asked about some critics’ contention that the Indian government was not doing enough to rescue Indian nations from the violence-riven Gulf state.

The Gulf region is critical to India’s vital national security interests and  accounts for over 70 per cent of the country’s  oil imports and is home to 7-million strong Indian diaspora, who contribute around $40 billion in annual remittances.

Contact  Details: The Indian government has set up three offices to help Indian nationals in Iraq: Najaf -Abu Mathen George (+964 771 6511190), Srinivas Rao(+964 771 6511181) Rakesh Singh (+964 771 6511179) and e-mail controlroomnajaf@gmail.com.

In Karbala: Anil Sapra (+964 771 6511180), Jeewan Singh (+964 771 6511176 and e-mail controlroomkarbala@gmail.com and in Basra: Narasimha Murthy Kuppa (+964 771 6511182), Asif Shah Ahmed (+964 771 6511178), email controlroombasrah@gmail.com.

 

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