Even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Senior US Senator John McCain discuss the recent crisis in Iraq, the 46 Indian nurses who were stranded in conflict-hit city of Tikrit have been moved out to an undisclosed location signaling an imminent trouble for them.
Although the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) claimed that it is in touch with the nurses, it refused to confirm whether they have been moved by the Sunni militant group ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS)’ and where are they headed for.
“The government is in touch with the embassy in Baghdad. We are in touch with the nurses and spoke to them while they were on the move,” MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said here today while refusing to comment on their exact location.
However, he admitted that the some of the nurses did receive minor injuries due to shattering of the glasses in the hospital in Tikrit where they were staying as fighting was going on outside the compound. It seems they were moved in the morning today.
The issue was also discussed during a meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and Kerela Chief minister Oomen Chandy here today.
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Issues related to India in non-conflict zones
Almost 900 Indians have been provided tickets to fly out of Iraq.
On being asked whether the nurses moved out of Tikrit on the own will or by the ISIS, Akbaruddin stated that there is ‘no free will in conflict zones’ adding to fuel to widespread speculations that they could might as well be captivated by the militants.
“In zones of conflict there is no free will. In conflict zones there are no norms, no rules. There is no free will in zones of conflict. I have explained to you that they have been moved and there are no free will. I do not know where their destination is. They are on the road. They remain unharmed. They are not going of their own free will. Their welfare is now of utmost importance for the government,” he added.
It was last week when the militants seized Tikrit and hence the Iraqi government has no control over the region presently.
Meanwhile, the process of evacuation is on. Almost 900 Indian nationals are on their way back now. MEA said the mobile teams have so far registered 1500 who are keen on coming back. But they are facing several issues such as overstay of workers, lack of documentation, lack of residential evidence and cases of illegal entry.