New Delhi: The government said yesterday it was “knocking on all doors” and not just in Iraq to free the Indian workers abducted there, as one of them escaped from the custody of suspected Sunni insurgents.
As the kidnap saga entered a second week, the external affairs ministry indicated that the government would go to any length to resolve its first major crisis.
“We are knocking on all doors... front doors, back doors and trap doors for freeing the 40 Indians (in Mosul),” ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said here. “Knocking on all doors does not just mean doors in Iraq.”
“We are working with Iraqi authorities,” he said, but underlined that the situation was not easy.
The spokesman confirmed that one of the Indians had escaped and contacted the Indian embassy in Baghdad but did not give his present whereabouts.
“No option is off the table when lives of our nationals are involved,” he said without elaborating.
Forty Indians working for a Turkish construction company were seized in Mosul a week ago after hardline Sunni insurgents took control of the area along with other key parts of Iraq.
The government reiterated yesterday that all of them were safe but did not say if it knew where they were or who was holding them. Most of those abducted belong to Punjab, whose Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal Thursday led a delegation of seven of the distraught families to New Delhi to urge the Narendra Modi government to act fast.
Separately, 46 Indian nurses - mostly from Kerala - remain trapped in Tikrit, the birthplace of the late Saddam Hussein, the spokesman said. He added that they were being provided food and water. Yesterday’s announcement followed a meeting Prime Minister Modi chaired on Iraq.
In attendance were Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and the heads of intelligence agencies.
Akbaruddin told the media that the Iraq issue was “high priority” for the government.
He said the land route to Mosul, one of the areas taken over by the Sunni insurgents, was “extremely difficult” and there was no air connectivity either. Mosul is located about 400 km from Baghdad and Tikrit is 180 km away from the Iraqi capital.