Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal on Wednesday met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and said his state is ready to bear all expenses for the safe return of Punjabis kidnapped presumably by Islamic militants in oil-rich Mosul town of strife-torn Iraq.
Badal, who rushed to Delhi after hearing the news, asked the Centre to make all-out efforts to secure the release at the earliest of the 40 kidnapped Indian workers, mainly from Punjab.
"We are very worried. I have met Union Minister Sushma Swaraj in this regard. I have asked the Centre to make all-out efforts to secure the safe release of the Indians, including those from Punjab, from strife-torn Iraq. We are ready to bear all the expenses for bringing them back," Badal told PTI.
He said the state government cannot do anything in this regard except pay for their expenses and pressed the Centre to take immediate diplomatic steps to secure their release.
Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has also given a firm assurance that all efforts would be made for safe evacuation of people from Haryana who have been stranded in Iraq.
Haryana Government has also set up a control room with telephone number 0172-5059197 in Chandigarh for information on those stranded in Iraq.
At least 40 Indian construction workers, working on a construction project in Mosul in northern Iraq which has been captured by Sunni militant group ISIS, were kidnapped while they were being evacuated yesterday.
"Yes, I can confirm to you that 40 Indian workers have been kidnapped in Mosul," external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin told reporters here.
He said humanitarian agencies and International Red Crescent have confirmed to India about kidnapping of the workers, employed with Tariq Nur Alhuda company, but said there no information about their location.
"We have not received any calls of any nature from anyone who have indicated about ransom or any information that they have taken these people under their control," he said on being asked whether there has been any ransom call.