The Iraqi government has pinpointed the location of 40 Indians and hostages from a few other countries who have been held captive after they were kidnapped from the jihadist-held city of Mosul in the northern region of the West Asian country.
While conveying to New Delhi about the location, Baghdad, however, did not immediately raise hope for early return of the hostages, as the place they are held captive is no longer under the control of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government.
After meeting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Gurpinder Kaur, sister of abductee Majinder Singh, said her brother had told her over phone that the kidnappers had assured them of safe return to India. However, lack of proper travel documents could pose a problem.
New Delhi, meanwhile, stepped up its efforts to get in touch with the kidnappers to secure the release of the hostages. Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said all the 40 abductees, mostly from Punjab, were safe and the government would go beyond its limits to secure their release and ensure safety of other Indians in Iraq.
“We are making all-out efforts to ensure that all Indians return safely. We are leaving no stone unturned. We are contacting whosoever needs to be contacted and we have activated all channels. We guarantee that we will bring them back the moment the situation takes on a semblance of normalcy,” she said after meeting Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and family members of some of the abductees.
The 40 Indians were employed by the Tariq Nur Al Huda Company and were working at a construction site in Mosul, which fell to the advancing jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) — an offshoot of the Al-Qaeda — early on June 9. It is, however, still not clear if the ISIS is directly linked to the hostage situation.
Suresh Reddy, who was India’s envoy to Iraq till recently, reached Baghdad early on Thursday to help his successor Ajay Kumar to deal with the situation.