Zee Media Bureau/Hemant Abhishek
New Delhi: In an announcement that came as a major relief for the kith and kin of those abducted in Iraq, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Friday that all Indians there were safe and that 16 Indians had been evacuated from violence-hit areas.
Apprising scribes of the situation in Iraq, Syed Akbaruddin, the Official Spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is taking stock of the situation of the 40 Indians abducted in Iraq and added that it was a matter of high priority for the government.
He also announced that India would stop granting its nationals permission to travel to Iraq for work.
"The overseas affairs ministry has stopped granting immigration clearances to Indians travelling to Iraq for one month," said Akbaruddin.
Those travelling for other purposes were also advised to cancel their plans, Akbaruddin said.
The MEA spokesperson informed that of the 40 Indians abducted, one person had managed to escape from custody and was is in touch with Indian Embassy. 16 persons have been evacuated from two places, he added.
Asked about negotiations with the militants, the spokesperson said, "We are knocking on all doors, front doors, back doors and trapped doors."
Eight Indians have been evacuated from Baiji while eight others were moved out from Anbar. They have since been flown out of Baghdad.
Assuring the families of those abducted, Akbaruddin averred, “The Indian nationals who have been abducted remain safe," and added, “We remain in constant touch with the 46 Indian nurses. We have made arrangements for electricity and food in the hospital.”
Informing of the other arrangements made by the government for the Indians stranded in the strife-torn country, he said, “No Indian in Iraq will suffer on account of lack of documentation. Any Indian national who desires to return, but does not have money for the fare will be assisted by Indian community welfare fund in Iraq.”
“We have informed all our missions in the Indian region to discuss this matter with their states. Our officials have had meetings with a number of Iraqi officials at various levels.”
India had on Wednesday announced that its 40 nationals working for a Turkish construction company had been abducted in Iraq`s Mosul area, which was taken over by Sunni insurgents of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had said the workers mostly belonged to the country`s northern states, such as Punjab, and worked for the Tariq Noor al Huda construction company. He also said that no ransom call had been received.