'Stranded Indians travel at own risk'

'Stranded Indians travel at own risk'

Indians stuck in war-torn Iraq are risking their lives to travel to the airport as security personnel are too busy fighting militants to ensure their safety en route to the airport for their homeward journey.

Hence, the Indians, mainly pilgrims from Shia community, are willing to give the Iraqi security personnel in writing that they were travelling at their own risk and that the Iraqi government would not be responsible in case something happened to them. “We were warned by the security personnel that travelling was dangerous. When we insisted on traveling, they asked us to give in writing that we were traveling at our own risk,” recalled Mohammed Mehendi Zaidi, who returned from Iraq with a group of 11 others a couple of days ago.

Zaidi, a resident of Shesshmahal area in the old city, told Deccan Herald here on Friday that the government of Iraq did everything possible for their comfortable and safe stay there during their pilgrimage.

“Every group is allotted a security officer, who remains with it throughout the stay in Iraq. He looks after every arrangement there,” Zaidi said.

Zaidi’s group, which travelled to Nazaf, Karbala, Kazmain and some other religious places of Shias in Iran, said that Iraq presented a picture of devastation. “Almost all the roadside houses have been destroyed,” he said. He said there was no sign of civilisation for miles together on the highways. “It looked like a desert. Sign of violence were everywhere. Everything is demolished,” Zaidi recalled.

Zaidi’s daughter Kaseen Fatima, who has been to Iraq on several occasions in the past, said the security situation in the country had worsened after the departure of the US soldiers from there.

Some said there still were a large number of pilgrims from Lucknow in Iraq. Their relatives here were worried for their safety. A large number of Shias visit Iraq for the purpose of “ziarat” (religious visit) every year. Many other Shia youths also leave for Iraq to study at prestigious Islamic seminaries.

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