Modi calls top meeting to discuss evacuation options

June 27, 2014 12:22 am | Updated November 27, 2021 06:56 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo: R.V. Moorthy

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo: R.V. Moorthy

In a preliminary move to assess the possibilities to evacuate Indians in Iraq, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ordered a meeting of top officials here on Thursday.

The meeting, chaired by Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth, was attended by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R.K. Dhowan, Civil Aviation Secretary Ashok Lavasa and senior intelligence officials, who were asked to give contingency plans on what would be the best route to evacuate Indian nationals in case the situation in Iraq warranted it.

Officials of the Ministry of External Affairs have said repeatedly that no evacuation is required at present given that commercial flights are operating regularly out of Baghdad and Erbil and most areas of Iraq are at present “safe.”

Official sources said very few of the 10,000-15,000 Indians working in Iraq want to leave as there is no violence in their areas and wages are unpaid.

As a result, officials have been “facilitating the exit of those wishing to go” by providing documents and tickets, but are not advising mass evacuations.

Indians actually trapped in the violence now number less than 100, including 39 men in Mosul, who are held “captive” and 46 nurses in Tikrit.

Even so the move by the Prime Minister’s Office came after reports that ISIS militants are holding on to the towns they have overrun, including Mosul, Tikrit and Baiji, while other tribal militia, armed Ba’athists and Army deserters are capturing areas as well, leading to concerns over the future stability of Iraq.

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