Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The crisis in Iraq has resulted in a crisis of sorts for India too, with 40 Indians being abducted on Wednesday by the ISIS militants.
The Iraqi government is in tatters and seemingly has no control over the crisis in the northern parts of the country, with the ISIS militants advancing towards Baghdad.
Given the above scenario, the fate of around 18000 Indians in Iraq hangs in balance. It is now to be seen how Narendra Modi-led NDA government at Centre deals with the crisis of abducted Indians.
ISIS is known to be one of the most cruel terror organisations. Recently, gruesome pictures of ISIS brutality in Iraq had emerged on social networking sites. Considering this fact, the abduction of Indians is sure to give the Prime Minister sleepless nights as it might be very difficult for the Indian government to establish contact with the abductors.
Most of the Indians live in cities like Basra, Najaf and Baghdad that have not been affected by the offensive launched by ISIS, but those in the northern region of the country are surely vulnerable.
The kins of abducted Indians have been demanding the government to ensure their safe release, but negotiations with the terror group looks difficult as no ransom demand have been made till now.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who is personally monitoring the deepening crisis in Iraq, has directed Secretary (East) Anil Wadhwa, who is in charge of the region, to head a crisis management team to provide all assistance to the Indian nationals in the affected area.
A plan is being worked out by the Indian authorities to airlift the stranded Indians, around 90, in the affected cities of Mosul and Tikrit that have been overrun by jihadi militants. Also, India`s former ambassador to Iraq, Suresh Reddy, who has good contacts in Iraq, will be sent to Baghdad to "assist the embassy in its efforts".
Meanwhile, 46 Indian nurses - most of them from Kerala - who are stranded in Tikrit, have already been looked up by the Iraqi Red Crescent at the request of the Indian government, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said. He added that several of them prefer to stay back in Iraq.
Now all eyes are on PM Narendra Modi and his team to come up with a plan to ensure that Indians are safe in Iraq and are evacuated to safer locations.
MEA has also sets up a 24-hour control room to provide information on Iraq. The helpline numbers are - +911123014104, +911123012113, +911123017905 Fax: +91 11 2301 8158.