Oommen Chandy has been persistently pursuing the issue with Centre

The release of 46 nurses who were held captive by Sunni insurgents in Iraq has come as a great relief for the State government.

The nurses are expected to arrive in Kochi Saturday morning by Air India flight to a great reception.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who has been camping in Delhi, has every reason to feel satisfied because he has been persistently pursuing the issue with the Central government along with his senior Cabinet colleagues.

17 from Kottayam

With as many as 17 of the nurses hailing from Kottayam, the Chief Minister’s home district, the pressure back home on him and his government to secure the release of the nurses was quite high to say the least. The fact that Mr. Chandy was in direct touch over telephone with the nurses helped a lot.

He received the calls and spoke to some of the team members directly, which perhaps went a long way in boosting their confidence levels while going through the inhospitable Iraqi terrain as captives of faceless mercenaries. There were quite a few occasion when he was instrumental in providing crucial inputs to the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on the latest developments with regard to the nurses, according to sources close to the Chief Minister.

On Thursday alone, he held two rounds of discussions with Mrs. Swaraj. Mr. Chandy left for home late this evening. He would be at the airport to receive the nurses.

The aircraft carrying them is expected to land at 7 a.m. at the Kochi airport.

Shortly before his departure, Mr. Chandy, said at a press conference that the nurses were finally released owing to the joint efforts of the Centre and State governments and the discussions and diplomatic moves with the assistance of the Indian Embassies and six Gulf countries.

He expressed his appreciation of the unstinted support of the Ministry and Embassy officials.

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