Abducted Indians were in militants' custody since June 8

An eyewitness recounts how they were taken hostage
Last Updated 22 June 2014, 20:55 IST

Indians kidnapped in Iraq were in the custody of the militants since June 8, the day Mosul was captured, although they were separated from most of their co-workers from other nations and taken to an unknown location about a week later.

“We were all together in the custody of the militants in a cotton factory in Mosul, but a group – comprising mostly 40 Indians – were separated from the rest of us on June 14 or 15 and taken to a location unknown to us,” Hasan, from Noakhali in Bangladesh, told Deccan Herald on Sunday.

“I was in touch with some of my Indian friends for several hours after the militants separated them from us, but their cell phones were switched off after about 3:30 pm (Iraq Standard Time). I could not contact any of them since then,” he said over the phone from a check-post controlled by Iraqi government forces between Mosul and Erbil (a business hub of Kurdistan Autonomous Region of Iraq) on Sunday.

Hasan, like the kidnapped Indians, was also an employee of the construction firm Tariq Nur Al Huda Company of Iraq, engaged in building a stadium in Mosul.

He said that the managers and supervisors of the company had fled when the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) had come close to capturing Mosul.

“They (the managers and supervisors of the company) had been assuring us that nothing would happen and the militants would be repelled by the Iraqi government’s forces. But they suddenly left without even clearing our dues, without even bothering to arrange for our daily meals, let alone safe passage from Mosul, although they had promised otherwise earlier,” said Hasan.

He, along with the Indians and other nationals, was in the workers’ camp, when armed militants came in. “The militants told us that since the managers of the company had left, they would provide us food and also ensure our safety. They took all of us to a cotton factory and looked after us well for almost a week,” said Hasan.

The jihadists also promised Hasan and other foreign workers that they would escort them to the border of Kurdistan, an autonomous region of Iraq unaffected by the conflict between ISIL and forces loyal to the government in Baghdad. They were also promised that arrangements would be made so that they could safely reach Erbil, which is unaffected by the conflict.

“But, on June 14 or 15 – I cannot exactly remember the date – the jihadists separated the Indians and a few others from the rest of us and asked them to board a vehicle escorted by other vehicles full of armed militants. They were taken to some other location,” said Hasan.

A few days later, the militants escorted Hasan and rest of the workers to a place near a camp of the Iraqi Army and released all of them. They walked up to the camp and have since been under protection of the Iraqi government forces.

“The Iraq Army is providing us food and looking after us. But we could not yet reach Erbil. I have not heard about my Indian friends since they were separated from the rest of us,” he said.

(Published 22 June 2014, 20:55 IST)

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