AsiaIndiaIraqSecuritySouthern Asia

India to help 600 nationals return from Iraq this week

New Delhi, June 30 The government Monday said it will facilitate the return of over 600 Indians from non-conflict areas of Iraq this week, as efforts continued to secure the safe release of Indians in captivity in war-torn areas of the Gulf nation.

“Departure of more than 600 Indian nationals will be facilitated during this week,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Asked about the situation in the wake of reports that insurgent group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria) declaring its leader as caliph, Akbaruddin said India was prepared to knock on every door to secure release of its citizens.

“We are ready to knock on all doors. We are knocking on front doors, back doors and trap doors,” he said.

The spokesperson said the 39 Indian nationals held captive in Mosul were unharmed.

Suspected militants of ISIS have overrun Mosul and Tikrit, the hometown of late Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Akbaruddin said the government has started a “pro-active approach” to facilitate the return of its citizens from Iraq and the country’s diplomats were reaching out to Indians at their places of residence in the Gulf nation and advising them to return in view of the prevailing situation.

He said Indians were leaving non-conflict zones on commercial flights. “We are in the facilitation phase,” he said.

Akbaruddin said the nation’s assets were ready in case of any requirement. “If needed, we will not hesitate to use them.”

An Indian warship has reached Persian Gulf and and the Indian Air Force has also kept heavylift transport aircraft C17 on standby for any short notice evacuation operation.

Akbaruddin said that if Indians in Iraq had monetary problems regarding return tickets, the government will bear the liability.

The spokesperson said 60 Indians have left Najaf, another 31 will leave the place Tuesday and another 30 will leave it the day after. From Karbala, nearly 200 Indians will move out in the next five-six days.

He said that in Basra, an application had been moved for release of six Indians in judicial custody. “They will leave (for India) shortly,” he said.

The spokesperson said some Indians were also moving out of Baghdad.

Asked about the nurses in Tikrit, he said they have been “provided resources” and “we are in touch with them”.

He said Iraqi authorities have also been informed of the nurses’ location so that they were not caught in the crossfire.