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ISIS unwilling to negotiate release of Indian workers abducted in Iraq

world Updated: Jun 25, 2014 01:29 IST
Harinder Baweja
Harinder Baweja
Hindustan Times
missing Indians in iraq

Members of ISIS who continue to control the fate of 39 Indian workers abducted from Mosul in Northern Iraq are not open to any negotiations for their release.

“There is no direct contact with the insurgents and they don’t want to engage in any talks yet,’’ Iraqi Red Crescent Society president Yaseen Abbass confirmed to HT over phone from Baghdad.

Forty Indian workers were abducted from Mosul on June 15. The first information of the abduction was given to the Indian embassy in Baghdad by Red Crescent.

Indian officials in Baghdad and Delhi have been trying to knock on several doors since then to secure their release but to no avail. Red Crescent, which still operates out of Mosul, has informed Indian authorities that the workers remain “unharmed.”

Asked how the humanitarian agency had arrived at the conclusion, Abbass said, “Sources who have access to them have told us the hostages are unharmed.” He also denied reports amongst a section of the media in Delhi that one of the 39 hostages had been killed. He had told HT last week that they were trying to contact ISIS members through local community leaders in Mosul.

Read: Over 1,000 killed in Iraq in 17 days; more Indians moved to safety

The Indian government has sought help from a number of countries in the region besides Iraqi authorities, aides of Saddam Hussein and several humanitarian agencies to resolve the crisis. A government official in Delhi confirmed to HT that no direct contact had yet been established with the captors. He indicated that the process to secure the kidnapped workers was “a long haul.’’

Though ISIS has not claimed credit for the abductions, government officials believe the militia, which has occupied vast swathes of territory in Iraq, is behind the kidnappings. The fact was confirmed by the lone Indian worker who managed to escape.

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“We believe that the no-negotiation stance taken by ISIS is to keep the Indians and use them as human shields,’’ a government official said. HT had on Sunday reported that Harjit Singh, the worker who escaped, had provided inputs to Indian and Iraqi authorities of the ISIS’ intent to use the 39 captives as their first line of defence in the event of a military strike by Iraqi and US authorities.

Read: It’s still a long wait for Punjab, Kerala kin

Full coverage: Iraq on the brink