Iraq’s envoy to India Ahmad Berwari has said his government has no information about who is holding the 39 Indians captive in Mosul, although his government has confirmed that they are “safe” at present.
Mr. Berwari told The Hindu : “I can’t say who is in charge in Mosul. But we can say they [the Indians] are not harmed at present.”
While the Iraqi town of Mosul has been overrun by ISIS militants, there are several other groups, including tribal militia and former army commanders who hold parts of it.
Sources speaking to The Hindu confirmed that embassy officials in Baghdad remained in touch with Iraqi government officials and the Iraqi Red Crescent on the condition of the Indian men.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin also said the government was in touch with 12 companies employing Indian nationals in Iraq and would soon work out a way to facilitate the return of those Indians who wanted to leave Iraq.
India has successfully evacuated 17 Indian nationals out of the 120 originally stranded in the conflict zones in the strife-torn nation.
“Our efforts continue both in Iraq and outside … our initiatives are gaining impetus [and] we are proceeding systematically and carefully … our information flow has improved … various doors are opening now … primarily in Iraq … all of which are significant,” Mr. Akbaruddin said.
About 10,000 Indians were beyond the conflict zone and while there was no imminent danger to their lives, “there are issues related to their status, visa requirements and contractual obligations.”
The government was in touch with 12 companies employing Indian nationals in Iraq. The largest number of Indians — about 2,000 to 2,500 — was employed by a company in Najaf, the second largest by companies in Basra and several others in Kirkuk.
“Since these are not conflict areas, we cannot use force and will have to follow the norms of the host country,” he said.
As of Monday afternoon, the Indian mission in Baghdad had received 120 requests while the control room set up by the government in New Delhi had about 300 requests.
Out of these, 100 queries related to evacuation, another over a 100 requests pertained to information about people who could not be traced by their relatives in India and the rest related to general information, the government said.