In­dia gets into pro- ac­tive mode over Iraq cri­sis

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Iftikhar Gi­lani @ dna

New Delhi: Amidst al­le­ga­tions that In­dia’s ef­forts to res­cue its trapped cit­i­zens in Iraq were prov­ing fu­tile, the govern­ment on Satur­day got into a pro- ac­tive mode. Af­ter a na­tional cri­sis man­age­ment com­mit­tee meet­ing on late Fri­day, it was de­cided to send a team of of­fi­cials from the min­istry of ex­ter­nal af­fairs to fa­cil­i­tate re­turn of 10,000 In­dian in non- con­flict­ing zones, be­sides dis­patch­ing a war­ship INS Mysore to the Per­sian Gulf, near the con­flict zone, in an at­tempt to raise stakes in the re­gion and fa­cil­i­tate re­lease its 39 hostages held by the Sunni fighters.

Ex­ter­nal af­fairs min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj has also sum­moned top In­dian en­voys in Gulf coun­tries for con­sul­ta­tions here on Sun­day.

In a ‘ pro- ac­tive’ move, the MEA dis­patched seven of­fi­cers to hold camps in Najf, Kar­bala and Basra in south­ern Iraq to fa­cil­i­tate re­turn of In­dian cit­i­zens. Though of­fi­cials es­ti­mate 10,000 In­dian work­ers in this re­gion, there is pos­si­bil­ity of a large num­ber of il­le­gal immi- grants as well tak­ing the un­of­fi­cial ac­count to around 25,000 to 30,000. The of­fi­cials will pro­vide these people travel documents, ne­go­ti­ate with their em­ploy­ers to an­nual their con­tracts and pro­vide free air tick­ets, in case they can­not af­ford them. In next few days, an­other batch of of­fi­cials will also be dis­patched who will roam around and help dis­tressed In­dian on call.

MEA spokesper­son Syed Ak­barud­din said the 39 In­di­ans who were kid­napped re­mained in cap­tiv­ity and un­harmed, adding there were some leads avail­able about them. He said the mis­sion was also in touch with 46 nurses in Tikrit and de­nied the re­ports that there was any ex­plo­sion in the com­pound they were in.

About the num­ber of In­di­ans in the con­flict zone, the spokesper­son said it would not be pos­si­ble to give the ex­act num­ber but it should be around 100. He said that the govern­ment was knock­ing three doors, front doors, back doors and trap doors. An­a­lysts here de­ci­pher it as us­ing diplo­macy, seek­ing help of for­eign and friendly na­tions and also keep­ing pow­der dry for any covert oper­a­tion.

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