Govt wants Par­lia­ment to is­sue Ramzan ap­peal to Iraqi cap­tors

The Political and Business Daily - - NATION -

WITH 41 In­di­ans lan­guish­ing in cap­tiv­ity in Iraq for the last 45 days, the Govern­ment to­day­sug­gested that Par­lia­ment should is­sue an ap­peal to the cap­tors to re­lease them as a "Ramzan gift" be­fore Eid next week.

While mak­ing the sug­ges­tion in the Lok Sabha, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj ap­peared to send out a mes­sage to the Is­lamist mil­i­tants hold­ing the hostages by re­mind­ing that In­dia had re­fused to send armed forces to Iraq when the US went there over a decade back.

"The holy pe­riod of Ramzan is on. The House should ap­peal to those who have kept these 41 In­di­ans cap­tive to re­lease them be­fore Eid as a spe­cial Ramzan gift," she said while re­ply­ing to a calling at­ten­tion mo­tion on the sit- ua­tion in Iraq and the In­di­ans stranded there due to the on­go­ing con­flict.

In­dia has had "very good his­tor­i­cal re­la­tions" with Iraq and "it must be re­called that sev­eral years ago, it was this House that had passed a res­o­lu­tion and we did not send our armed forces to Iraq," Swaraj said.

How­ever, the House did not adopt a res­o­lu­tion as Speaker Su­mi­tra Ma­ha­jan took up the next item on the agenda im­me­di­ately af­ter Swaraj ended her re­ply to the mo­tion raised by Congress mem­ber KC Venu­gopal, RSP's NK Premachan­dran and AAP's Dharam Vira Gandhi.

Of the 41 held cap­tive, 31 be­long to Pun­jab, four each to Hi­machal Pradesh and Ut­tar Pradesh and two to West Ben­gal, Swaraj said.

"While we don't have any di­rect con­tact with them, but ac­cord­ing to sev­eral sources, we have got to know they are safe and alive, they are be­ing given food," Swaraj said.

To ques­tions about the ac­tion plan to get them re­leased, the Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter re­fused to re­veal de­tails, say­ing the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ple of such ne­go­ti­a­tions was se­crecy. "Did you get to know our plan when we got the 46 nurses from Ker­ala re­leased?"

Like the Ker­ala Govern­ment, the Pun­jab GAovern­ment was also in touch with MEA and mak­ing all ef­forts to get these kid­napped per­sons re­leased, Swaraj said.

Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj speaks in the Lok Sabha in New Delhi on Thurs­day. PTI

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