The lives of 46 Indian nurses, who were trapped in a Tikrit hospital in Iraq, fell in danger after the ISIS militants forcibly shifted them to Mosul, where 39 abducted Indians are already being held hostage.
The Sunni militants, that recently announced their own Caliphate in the Middle East, are said to have abducted the nurses on Thursday, leaving the Indian government now fearing for the lives of 85 of its nationals trapped in conflict zones.
Some of the nurses were able to get in touch with their relatives and even some sections of the media at the time of moving, and their statements reek of fear under the shadow of the militants.
"Our government wasted a lot of time. Now, they can send coffins to take us back," Sona Jospeh told the Hindustan Times over the phone. "We were politely resisting their moves to shift us from the hospital, but now their tone is different. We have no option, but to obey them."
Some nurses managed to communicate with relatives, even at the time of being shifted from the hospital, with accounts of the journey being under the duress of gunmen and through inhospitable terrains.
All the nurses are said to be from Kerala, and the state Chief Minister Oommen Chandy confirmed that the nurses had been moved out of the hospital, where they were staying holed up ever since the offensive by the insurgents began.
The Ministry of External Affairs also did not deny the possibility of their abduction.
"In zones of conflict, there is no free will. It is not a situation of our choice. Our embassy continues to be in touch even as they are moving to another location," the MEA spokesperson said.
Reports suggested it was on the behest of the Indian government that the nurses agreed to move out as ordered by the terrorists.
The "decision" to make the nurses obey ISIS orders came after two meetings between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Chandy on Thursday, HT reported.
The Ministry further said the Indian nurses were safe and had faced only minor injuries due to shards from a blast that occurred nearby, as Tikrit is seeing escalating violence with Iraqi forces fighting to take back the territory from the militants.