Kerala remembers Sushma's role to bring home 46 nurses

Sushma Swaraj. File photo

As senior BJP leader and former union minister Sushma Swaraj breath her last, Kerala fondly remembers her late-night intervention in rescuing 46 nurses from the war-ravaged Iraq in 2014.

Sushma, who was the then external affairs minister, attended a call from the then Kerala Chief Minister and senior Congress leader Oommen Chandy in the midnight on July 5, 2014, and made swift arrangements for the landing of a special aircraft in Iraq for carrying the 46 nurses.

The nurses hailing from Kerala were held captive in a hospital at Tikrit by ISIS for about 23 days. One of the nurses, Marina Jose, managed to get in touch with Chandy and explained their terrifying plight. Chandy swiftly got in touch with Swaraj and within days arrangements were made for the return of the nurses by a special flight. But the flight was denied landing permission in Iraq.

Recollecting the incident, Chandy told DH that it was by around 1.30 in the midnight that he got a call from Kerala government's office informing that the special flight was denied landing permission in Iraq and the flight was returning.

"I had not other option, but to ring up Swaraj as something had to be done immediately. She attended the phone and without any sort of hesitation, she swiftly got in touch with the embassy officials and made the arrangements for the flight to land in Iraq. Within 15 minutes she called me back and said that all hurdles were sorted out. That crucial initiative made the return of the nurses to India possible," Chandy recollects.

Chandy, who said in his condolence message that Swaraj was a leader who dealt with issues of people beyond politics, also recollected that she had dedicated three days for following up step by step measures for the rescue of the Indian nurses.


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