Working round-the-clock to rescue Indians stuck in Iraq: Govt

Last Updated 19 June 2014, 08:47 IST

The government today said it was working round the clock to rescue the Indian nationals trapped in Iraq even as it stressed that it does not want to complicate the issue by merely making statements.

"We cannot speak on hypothetical questions. First of all, the priority is to get them back, to get them released. The government is working 24x7... Our effort is to see that they are released at the earliest. We are using all our channels to get them released," Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu told reporters here.

"We discussed (the matter) at length yesterday," he added.

Forty Indian construction workers have been kidnapped in the oil-rich Mosul town in strife-torn Iraq, presumably by Islamist militants, although no ransom demands have been received yet.

The workers, mostly from Punjab and other parts of north India, were working on a construction project in Mosul in northern Iraq, which has been captured by Sunni militant group ISIS.

Naidu said the government's efforts would be directed towards ensuring the prompt release of the Indian nationals.

"We do not want to make any statements and complicate the issue further. Whatever is needed to be done will be done. The priority is to get them back and make their families happy," Naidu said.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar took a dig at the government, saying, "The question now is, 'can the successor government do it?'. I don't have much faith in these naive people, who have come to office without experience."

He, however, said he has great faith in the Indian Foreign Service.

"I am sure that our diplomats will succeed to a very large measure in protecting Indian communities that are endangered in (Iraq) as a result of the ongoing conflict there," he said.

Punjab Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal told reporters that he met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj yesterday and would do so today as well.

"They are making every effort, whatever the central government can do. We have also asked our Chief Secretary (in Punjab) to communicate with the family members of the people (trapped in Iraq)," he said.

(Published 19 June 2014, 08:47 IST)

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