US Evacuates Workers from Baghdad as ISIS Militants Inch Closer, India Asks its Citizens to Leave Iraq
US Evacuates Workers from Baghdad as ISIS Militants Inch Closer, India Asks its Citizens to Leave IraqReuters

One of the 40 Indian construction workers abducted by militants of Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Mosul city of Iraq has escaped.

Iraqi Red Crescent's president Dr Yaseen Abbass confirmed the worker's escape from ISIL's captivity on Thursday, 19 June, Hindustan Times reported.

The worker, whose name has not been revealed yet, is said to be safe in Erbil, a northern Iraqi city. The worker managed to flee from the ISIL's captivity and contacted officials at the Indian embassy in Baghdad, Abbass explained.

Meanwhile, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that the 40 kidnapped construction workers are safe and the locations where they have been kept in captivity have been identified by Iraqi authorities.

"They are all safe and are lodged in two locations- a cotton mill and a government building," Swaraj told the worried families of the abducted Indians in Delhi. She added that the kidnapped Indian construction workers are from Punjab.

Family members of the kidnapped Indians met Swaraj in the presence of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal in Delhi. The Minister said that the government is making all-out efforts to ensure the safe return of all the kidnapped Indians and promised the families to bring their abducted kin from Iraq safely to India once normalcy returns in the violence ridden country.

Swaraj pleaded with the family members to be patient, pray to God and allow Indian authorities to take all possible steps to rescue the kidnapped Indians in Iraq.

The Minister also told all the Indian nationals stranded in Iraq not come out of homes till safe environment returns to the locality where they reside.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday, 19 June, urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take all possible steps for safe return of the 46 Indian nurses, who have been stranded in a hospital in Tikrit. Most of the 46 nurses are from Kerala.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Chandy said that Indian government should send a special aircraft to bring the stranded Indians in the strife-hit Iraq. The Kerala Chief Minister also pleaded with the Prime Minister to take steps to ensure that the nurses are paid damages for having to discontinue their work. In this regard the Union government should alert the UN and the Red Cross and other such agencies, Chandy said in his letter to Modi.

The situation in Iraq for Indian nationals has become difficult with the violence of ISIL militants, who are said to be terrorizing the residents. In some areas, Indian nationals have stopped going to work due to the unrest in the country. Some even said that salaries are not being paid to them, due to which they wanted to return to India.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa has also urged the Prime Minister to intervene in the issue of 46 nurses, who are stranded in Tikrit hospital. She urged the PM to take steps for their safe return to India. Six of the nurses are from Tamil Nadu.

Jayalalithaa said in her letter to Modi that the nurses are innocent bystanders, rendering valuable service to the health system of Iraq. India and the international community at large are duty-bound to ensure their safety and to provide them a safe passage back to their homeland.

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