Opposition on Friday demanded a detailed response from Government in Rajya Sabha on Iraq issue ruing that there is no data on how many Indians were still stuck up there and said the Centre should show urgency in the matter as was shown during the Gulf war.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha during Zero Hour, K.N. Balagopal (CPI(M) said the government should hold a discussion on the Iraq issue, saying only a few of the large number of persons working there having been evacuated so far.
He said that besides nurses from Kerala and some other parts of the country, there were a number of Indian labourers working there who had gone to Iraq via different countries.
Mr. Balagopal said Government does not have any data regarding how many Indians are working there and demanded that the kind of urgency shown during the Kuwait war by sending ships and aircraft to bring Indians from that country need to be shown this time as well.
Members from a number of parties associated themselves with Mr. Balagopal on this issue.
P. Rajeeve (CPI(M) said Indians wanting to return are not being given back their passports and they are not being allowed to come back.
“It’s a very serious situation,” he said. Mr. Prabhakar Kore (BJP) also expressed agreement with Mr. Rajeeve, raising passport related problems of Indians in Iraq, but said the NDA government in Punjab has taken a number of support measures for those coming back.
As Opposition members pressed for government’s response, Minister Thawarchand Gehlot, who was present in the House, said he will apprise the Minister for External Affairs of the sentiments of the members.
Viplove Thakur (Cong) said the government should “move very fast” in this matter as “thousands of workers are still remaining” there. Rapolu Ananda Bhaskar (Cong) said the return of Indians from Iraq should be facilitated through e-Visa.
M.P. Achuthan (CPI) rued that while many countries like Germany were able to evacuate their citizens from Iraq in time, there is no data of ten thousand Indians working there.
He said the government must come forward and rehabilitate people coming back from Iraq.
JD(U) president Sharad Yadav said External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj should speak on the issue.
“Government should come out with a detailed response,” he said demanding a discussion on the issue from Deputy Chairman P.J. Kurien.
Kurien said it is not that the government has not done anything, but more work may be required to be done. .
“Government has done a lot of work,” he said.
In another Zero Hour mention, K.C. Tyagi (JD-U) targetted the NDA government over the Israel-Palestinian crisis and expressed serious concern over the killing of four Palestinians including a four-year-old girl.
“I regret that even the External Affairs Minister did not express concern over it. Why the Government of India did not react to it,” he asked.