Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Friday called up the senior officials of the minitsry of external affairs and the former Indian Ambassador to Iraq Suresh Reddy, who has been monitoring the rescue operations of Indians trapped in the strife-torn Iraq, to ensure safe and prompt return of the Punjabis from there.
The chief minister specifically took up the matter of 16 persons of Mandi Gobindgarh who were trapped in four steel re-rolling mills in the cities of Italia and Qasim, 300 km away from Baghdad, with the MEA officials, highlighting that the said persons were desperate to return but were not allowed to leave by the mill owner.
The case of these 16 men from Punjab, out of total 31 Indians, trapped in Iraq came on the surface when their families from Mandi Gobindgargh called on the chief minister at his residence here on Friday, a spokesman said.
The chief minister assured these families that the state government was in constant touch with the ministry of external affairs over this sensitive issue.
The delegation apprised Badal that their family members were working at four different steel re-rolling mills whose owner was allowing them to return home after the trouble began in Iraq.
The mill’s owner, Faazal Abaad, had himself come to Mandi Gobindgarh and took their men to Iraq for employment. But now he was not allowing them to return, they added.
The chief minister also spoke over phone to the joint secretary (Gulf and Haj) Mridul Kumar from MEA, asking him to ensure safe and early evacuation of the trapped Indians, especially the 16 Punjabis trapped in the said mills.