With emerging signals that the 40 Indian workers in ISIS custody in Iraq may not really have been “kidnapped”, Indian authorities have started to draw up plans to evacuate them at short notice, and are consulting Air Force officials to chart out possible flight paths and landing areas.
Sources said after confirmation on the status and location of the workers was received from Iraqi authorities, concrete plans were being discussed for an evacuation, possibly utilising Indian military assets. IAF officials said aircraft, including C 130 Js were on standby.
A final call was likely to be taken after full consultations with Indian diplomats on the ground and all officials involved, IAF officers, who spoke anonymously, said.
The government Thursday said it knew the location of the workers, and efforts were on through multiple channels, including the Iraq government, to secure their release.
Asked if the Indians were safe, the MEA spokesperson said, “There is no safety in captivity.”
“At this stage I will not be able to share information on either the location of that place or what the Iraqi authorities had shared with us,” the spokesperson said.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi wrote to PM Narendra Modi Thursday, asking him to “intensify all diplomatic efforts” to ensure the release. Affected families met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who assured them of all help.
‘Freeze clearances for Iraq’
By: Madhuparna Das
Kolkata: The Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has directed the office of the Protector of Emigrants in the eastern region not to give fresh clearances to anyone wanting to go to Iraq to work. The ministry has also asked for details of emigrants who went to Iraq through the eastern region office in Kolkata to work there. The PoE office in Kolkata caters to 14 eastern and northeastern states. Tapan Das, Protector, Eastern Region, said since 2007, only one person has sought clearance to go to Iraq on an employment contract. This applicant, Mithilesh Kumar Singh of Bihar, applied on October 7, 2013, and was cleared to travel to Iraq. His family has so far not contacted the PoE.