Indians stuck in Iraq: MEA sets up 24x7 control room to respond to queries

Despite the government`s assurance of the workers` safety, reports emerging from Iraq paint a dim picture of their condition under the ISIS captivity.

Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha

New Delhi: As pressure mounts on the Indian government over the Indian workers stuck in Iraq, the Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday said that it had established a 24x7 control room to deal with the assisstance requests for those held hostage by the ISIS militants in Mosul.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin also tweeted a video of the control room in action, which showed the ministry officials taking calls from the relatives of those trapped, and jotting down their details like phone number, company name, office phone number, passport number, etc.

The control room set up by the MEA may prove to be a big help for the kins of those stuck in Iraq, as it can help trace the workers with the help of contact details provided by the families.

The workers` families can contact the control room at controlroom@mea.gov.in.

Additionally, the Indian Embassy in Baghdad has set up a 24 hour helpline, which can be contacted for assistance at following numbers:

+9647704444899

+9647704843247

The control room is being monitored by the officials of Joint Secretary level and recieves over 70-80 calls per day.

Meanwhile, the government has confirmed that all Indians under the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) captivity in Iraq are “unharmed”. The government is said to have established contact with the Indian workers on late Thursday night.

The announcement was made by Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin who said, "We can confirm that all Indians are unharmed".

The government has also managed to identify those ISIS captors who have held Indians hostage and is in contact with agencies like the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and Iraq Red Crescent to facilitate the Indians` rescue, reports said.

Concern has been mounting over 40 Indian construction workers caught in crossfire in Iraq, who were taken hostage last week by the ISIS militants when they captured the town of Mosul and went on to mushroom further capturing wider swathes of Iraqi territory.

Out of the 40 Indians abducted, 29 are from Jalandhar, 28 from Kapurthala, 23 from Amritsar and 22 from Gurdaspur districts.

One of them, who succeeded in escaping the militants` custody, was reportedly safe and reached Indian Embassy in Baghdad.

Despite the government`s assurance of the workers` safety, reports emerging from Iraq paint a dim picture of their condition under the ISIS captivity.

The construction workers who belong to the state of Punjab or Haryana, are reportedly used as porters or made to cook and clean for the Sunni militants.

Meanwhile a report by the Amnesty International India claimed that hundreds of Indians were stranded in Najaf province of the besieged Middle East country.

In a statement, the Amnesty added that the workers are unable to return as their employers have refused to give back their passports.

Amnesty International India also said that it had spoken with some of these workers and that they had not been paid their salaries for months.

The ISIS has massacred hundreds of people since the start of the offensive, and captured huge swathes of Iraq in a drastic way. 

Some 500,000 people have been internally displaced, according to UN estimates.

The ISIS militants who took over Mosul and Tikrit last week were seen advancing with a lighting speed as they approach Baghdad.

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