UP students stuck in Iraq seminaries

Many Shia pilgrims also stranded there

Scores of  people from Uttar Pradesh, who are studying at Shia seminaries in Iraq or went there on pilgrimage, are feared stuck in the war-torn country. 

Lucknow shares a unique relationship with Iraq as a large number of Shia youths go there to study at prestigious seminaries located mainly in the town of Najaf, located about 160 kilometers south of Baghdad.

Many members of the community also go to Iraq for paying obeisance at the tombs of Imam Hussain, who was martyred in the battle of Karbala in Iraq.

According to the Shia clerics here, many religious groups which had left for Iraq are yet to return to their homes. Their families are worried about their security,  as fighting continues there between government forces and the Sunni rebels.

Lucknow-resident Shahid, whose relatives had gone to Iraq on pilgrimage, said there has been no contact with them in the past few days.

Some people, who have managed to return, said the situation in Iraq was alarming but Najaf was comparatively safer as the fighting had not yet reached there.

Maualana Wasim Rizvi who had gone to Iraq to study at a seminary in Nazaf and returned on Thursday, said there were many students from UP and other states there. 

“There is no tension there,” Rizvi told reporters in Varanasi.

Appeal

Shia clerics have appealled to the Centre to ensure safety of the members of their community in Iraq.

“The government should take some concrete steps. Not only the Shias but others from the country are also in danger there. Sooner or later the incidents could have a bearing here also,” said noted Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Sadiq.

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