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46 Indian nurses freed, to return today

46 Indian nurses freed, to return today
Highlights

In a major diplomatic coup, the Modi Government scored its first major success, securing release of 46 Indian nurses, who were held captive by ISIS militants in Iraq.

  • Major diplomatic coup by Narendra Modi govt
  • A special flight leaves for Erbil to fetch them
  • 39 Indian workers still in captivity in Mosul

New Delhi: In a major diplomatic coup, the Modi Government scored its first major success, securing release of 46 Indian nurses, who were held captive by ISIS militants in Iraq.
Some of the nurses from Kerala who have been freed from captivity in Iraq. After several days of traumatic experience, they will be reaching their home State on Saturday morning. Photo:Thehansindia e-Paper
A Special Air India Boeing 777aircraft, carrying representatives of the Central and Kerala Governments, was dispatched to Erbil, capital of Kurd autonomous region in Iraq, to ferry the Indian nurses back to Kochi. These nurses could reach Kochi as early as on Saturday morning.

Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, who called on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, broke the happy news. “We were at it. We are happy and feel satisfied that we have done our duty,” he said. Nearly 70 other Indians, who are also in Erbil, will be brought back, along with the nurses.

These nurses, mostly from Kerala, were taken by Sunni militants of ISIS on Thursday from a hospital basement in Tikrit to an undisclosed location.

The issue was highly emotive as several people from Punjab and Kerala, as also other parts of the country were involved.
The issue could have snowballed like the Kandahar plane hijack issue, when the relatives of the passengers hit the streets, forcing the Vajpayee Government to finally bow to their major demands to secure the safe return of the hijacked plane passengers. The Modi Government managed to play cool and acted swiftly, before the issue slipped out its hands.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had worked constantly through back-channels to put pressure on the militants. She worked with several quarters and finally managed to pull it off. An aircraft was kept on standby to evacuate them and deployed its warship INS Mysore in the Persian Gulf. Sushma Swaraj had summoned Indian envoys in the Gulf countries for consultations on the Iraq situation.

The government engaged on the ground and through diplomatic channels, at a time when a war-like situation prevailed in Iraq and managed to bring the nurses out of captivity. Tenuous linkages were built and finally the Government came out with flying colours.

The crisis, however, is far from over. As many as 39 Indian construction workers, kidnapped two weeks ago in Mosul, continue to remain in captivity.

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