NEW DELHI: Top bureaucrats on Friday met as part of the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) to discuss if it was time to evacuate Indians from Iraq, where the situation has turned precarious.
At present, 39 Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, are under captivity at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and 46 nurses, mostly from Kerala, are stuck at a hospital in Tikrit. India has already evacuated over 20 people.
Sources said those attending the NCMC meeting were concerned over the deteriorating situation in the conflict zone and some expressed fears that the al-Maliki government in Baghdad may fall soon, plunging Iraq into further crisis.
In such a scenario, violence that was at present restricted to northern Iraq may spread to the southern regions too and when such a situation arises, India needs to have its options ready.
The Indian embassy in Baghdad has set up camp offices in towns such as Basra, Najaf and Karbala to get in touch with Indians there and provide them any assistance.
India’s Ambassador to Iraq Ajay Kumar and his predecessor Suresh Reddy are working overtime in Baghdad to see if they can get the 39 workers in ISIL’s captivity to be released early.
In the case of the nurses at Tikrit, they had power and water supply to their building and were also in touch with their families over the phone. Even if a new civilian government was installed in Baghdad after al-Maliki quits, those in the NCMC meet felt India may face a situation where some of its citizens may want to return home.