Thursday, Oct 30, 2014

Iraq turmoil: Indian nurses in Tikrit held captive by ISIS; govt deals with ‘difficult times’

Indian nurse Teena’s mother Lily and brother Tijo are both farm labourers. (Source: Express Photo) Indian nurse Teena’s mother Lily and brother Tijo are both farm labourers. (Source: Express Photo)
Express News Service | New Delhi | Posted: July 3, 2014 5:01 pm | Updated: July 3, 2014 8:35 pm

The 46 Indian nurses in Tikrit are now under the control of ISIS rebels, reports from Iraq said, even as India is dealing with the “difficult times” with no option in sight to evacuate these nurses, some of whom have suffered “minor injuries”, from the conflict zone in Iraq.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson also said the 46 nurses are safe but have moved to another location for safety. “Nurses, who have moved from Tikrit city of Iraq, are in touch with Indian Mission,” the MEA said.

Confirming that the nurses are “on road” and moving towards an undisclosed destination, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said they were moving for their own safety as there was no “freewill in a zone of conflict”, indicating that they were under captivity and moving under duress.

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He said that after considering the situation where there were no options as the area was not under Iraqi government’s control and the humanitarian groups were unable to reach to these nurses, the ministry, in consultation with the Kerala Chief Minister and other stakeholders, advised the nurses to “proceed” as were asked.

“It is not a situation of our choice. It is a difficult situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, reports in the website of Kerala daily Malayala Manorama said some of the nurses were injured when the rebels shattered some glass as they were being moved to a vehicle in the hospital compound. “Some nurses suffered minor injuries in an incident of glass breaking in Iraq but no major injury to anybody,” the MEA said.

The report, quoting the relatives of one of the captive nurses from Kerala, said the rebels reached the hospital arond noon and threatened to blow it up. While Subin managed to convey this to his relatives, his phone was picked up by someone speaking in Arabic when the called later, the report said.

A relative is consoled during a prayer meeting for the Indian workers stranded in Iraq, at Baba Budha Ji Sahib Gurdwara at Kathunangal in Amritsar. (Source: PTI) A relative is consoled during a prayer meeting for the Indian workers stranded in Iraq, at Baba Budha Ji Sahib Gurdwara at Kathunangal in Amritsar. (Source: PTI)

Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy meanwhile met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj seeking effective action to evacuate the 6 nurses, majority of whom are from Kerala.

Chandy expressed concern over the safety of the nurses who are in touch with him over telephone. The nurses told Chandy that they are living in panic, as the situation is deteriorating minute-by-minute, continued…

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