Agencies, New Delhi
About 40 Indians, largely from northern parts of the country, working in a construction company in strife-torn Mosul town of Iraq have been kidnapped, the government confirmed here today.
However, their whereabouts were not known, and the Government was working with International organisation Red Crescent to locate the workers, who had been employed by Tariq Noor Al Huda Construction company, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin Akbaruddin said here while replying to questions at a media briefing.
“It is with deep deep sadness we say that 40 Indians have been kidnapped,” Mr Akbaruddin said.
The information was based on the input by the Red Crescent, he said.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry, while not confirming reports of abduction, had admitted that all touch had been lost with the stranded Indians, as intense fight raged between Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters and Kurdish forces.
Replying to a question, Mr Akbaruddin said there was no call from any outfit for any demand for ransom.
He said though he could not give any precise information about which states the Indian nationals belonged to, they were largely from northern India.
“The situation in Iraq is very uncertain. We are piecing together various information, and will keep you informed if there were any updates,” he said, adding that the Ministry was getting information from various channels.
The Spokesperson also said so far 60 phone calls from the families of the kidnapped had been received by the Ministry.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has also talked to the families. Besides the Indians kidnapped, there were about 46 Indian nurses trapped in Tikrit town of Iraq with whom the Red Crescent was in touch but it had advised them not to take the surface route for leaving the City as it was not safe due to the fighting.
The Spokesperson said there was no plan to shut down the India Embassy and rather it would be strengthened with more staff. Mr Akbaruddin said the Government had a contingency plan to deal with the crisis and Secretary, East Anil Wadhwa was spearheading the plan. Besides, seasoned diplomat Suresh Reddy who had served in Iraq, was being sent to help the Indian Embassy. “These are difficult times. We will leave no stone unturned to help Indians,” he added.
Replying to a question, he said there were about 10,000 Indian nationals in Iraq but they were mostly in Kurdistan in southern part here local government was working. There were 6000 in northern part, 3000 in Baghdad, Nasra and Najaf cities. There were only about 100 Indians in those parts of Iraq where the situation was tense and communication uncertain.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has herself been monitoring and reviewing the situation on a regular basis,” Mr Akbaruddin had said.
Meanwhile, the Secretary East yesterday met Iraqi Ambassador Ahmad Tahseen Ahmad Berwari who apprised him of the situation and they discussed possibilities of ground-level co-operation and assistance to Indian nationals who were in the affected area. India has already expressed its support to the Iraqi government against the attack by terrorist outfits which had taken over some cities, including of Mosul and Tikrit.