A group of 46 Indian nurses held captive by the Sunni militants in Iraq have been freed.
All of them returned home to warm welcome earlier this month.
The Kochi airport is unusually crowded. Hundreds of relatives and neighbors are here for the arrival of local nurses returning home from Iraq.
Carrying flowers and garlands they shout ‘welcome home’. Many also hold placards reading ‘stop war’.
Shashi Kumar is here to met his daughter.
“We have been through hell all these days. It was so scary, our children were in grave danger and we were so helpless, it was a nightmare but thank God it’s over now and they are back.”
The nurses were working in at a hospital in the Iraqi city of Tikrit when militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the ISIS, seized the city.
Silia says they were trapped.
”Bombs were exploding everywhere and it was very difficult to even move. We were trapped inside. The militants told us to leave the hospital because they wanted to blast it, they wanted to take us with them but the people from the Indian embassy said we shouldn’t go with them. We did not know what to do and so we were just praying and crying.”
On 4th July, the ISIS dramatically freed the nurses.
The Indian government is reluctant to share any details about how it all happened.
Silia the militants did not harmed them.
“They talked to us in a friendly manner, provided us with food, water shelter and everything we needed. For us, they are not terrorists, they are our saviors.”
Nearly a 1000 Indian workers have returned from Iraq in recent days.
But hundreds of others are still stranded.
Some of them have reportedly been taken hostage by the Sunni militants.
Amandeep has no contact with her husband since early June. He is believed to be among 39 construction workers being held by the militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
“If the 46 nurses can be brought back why can’t our people be freed. Why is the government not doing anything for us?”
The ISIS recently listed India among the countries where the rights of Muslims are being violated.
Former Indian diplomat G. Parthasarthy sees ISIS as a greater threat than Al Qaida.
“They have said that they will target countries where Muslim’s rights have been ceased. Now the fact of the matter is that this is different from Al Qaida whose targets were very clear. Bin Laden formed the International Islamic Front for jihad against Jews and Crusaders-Israel and the West; these fellows are not saying that.”
Thousands of Indians travel to the Middle Eastern countries every year in search of a better-Paid jobs. Many of them even sell their homes or take loans against their properties to pay for the trip.
For many the money they earn and send home is life changing.
But defense analysts Ajay Shukla says the government should do more to keep them at home.
“Each time there is a crisis, like Kuwait in 1990s, Libiya, Lebenon, Syria, the Indian on the ground there are left at the mercy of an unfolding situation over which very few people have any control. We have to take a strategic decision that we are going to not encourage Indians to work in the Gulf region and we are going to create alternative employment for them in this country.”
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