The government on Thursday said it knew the location of the 40 Indian construction workers who were abducted near the town of Mosul in war-torn Iraq, and efforts were on through multiple channels, including the government in Baghdad, to secure their release.
The Ministry of External Affairs said it had received official information from the Iraqi government on the detention and location of the workers, who were being held captive along with workers from other countries.
Asked if the Indians were safe, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin 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. Indian officials in Baghdad were in touch with the Iraqi government, he said.
“We have been informed by the Iraqi foreign ministry that they have been able to determine the location of where these abducted Indian nationals are being held captive with workers of a few other nationalities,” Akbaruddin said.
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“Every avenue (to secure the workers’ release) will be pursued. Every channel will be examined. We will utilise every opportunity to ensure safety and security of our nationals,” the spokesperson said, adding that no ransom demand had been made yet.
The MEA’s Secretary, East, Anil Wadhwa, has had conversations with the Iraqi Ambassador in India, Ahmad Tahsin Ahmad Berwari, twice. India’s former ambassador to Iraq, Suresh Reddy, has reached Baghdad.
Officials said that the crisis management group set up in Delhi met twice on Thursday. They declined to discuss the details of contingency plans to rescue the stranded citizens, but said that at least two major airports at Erbil and Baghdad were currently functional.
Families of the kidnapped Indians met with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday. “All efforts are under way (to rescue them). I am personally supervising the efforts. We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure their return,” Swaraj said in the morning.
Harbhajan Kaur, the mother of Harsimranjit Singh of Babowal village, who is among the abducted workers, said the minister had assured them of every possible help, and told them that the government was “taking stock of the situation every five minutes”.