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Indians may go to Iraq as human shields

Eleven Indian Muslims who have pledged to go to Iraq as human shields said they were determined to go ahead with their plans.

india Updated: Mar 20, 2003 18:16 IST
Reuters
Reuters
PTI

Eleven Indian Muslims who have pledged to go to Iraq as human shields said on Thursday they were determined to go ahead with their plans despite the US air strikes on Baghdad.

"We can't think of a better way to die than protecting innocent Iraqis from the terrorism of America," said Maulana Khaleel-Ur-Rehman, 42, cleric of a mosque in Mumbai.

"We are not scared. The Americans are armed with bombs and weapons but we are armed with courage," said the Maulana.

He said the group of eight Islamic scholars and three businessmen had applied for visas two weeks ago and they were in touch with senior Iraqi diplomats in Delhi.

They plan to fly from Mumbai to Jordan, travel to Baghdad by road and remain in Iraq till the war ends.

Another member of the group, Suhail Rokadia, 30, who has a toy business in Mumbai, said they would first visit a Muslim shrine in Baghdad and then join other human shields from around the world.

Rokadia said all 11 would carry white shrouds or "kafans" to be placed on their bodies in case they died in Iraq.

Around 100 human shields, including dozens from Western countries, are staying at nine possible targets around Baghdad, such as power stations, water and electricity plants, a food silo and an oil refinery in an effort to stop bombs from falling.

First Published: Mar 20, 2003 18:16 IST