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'Hostages will be freed soon'
Sheela Bhatt in New Delhi | July 22, 2004 21:54 IST
The Indian government has been talking to "informal channels" to secure the release of the three Indian hostages abducted in Iraq, said a senior officer of Ministry of External Affairs.
;"We will give all the assistance from Delhi to save the lives of our people." he said. added.
Sources in the ministry said "India is sending a clear message to the abductors and informal channels in Kuwait and Iraq that India has not sent and will not send soldiers to Iraq."
"The confusion should be over in the minds of abductors. We are putting more pressure from Kuwait side," said an official.
The diplomatic efforts are being co-ordinated by R.Dayakar, Joint secretary, Gulf, in Ministry of External Affairs.
'Only diplomacy will work'
Hari Darsan Meiji, an Indian businessman based in Iraq for the last 25 years, believes that "the three Indian hostages will be saved. They will be released soon because Kuwait based trasport company will close down their operations in Iraq as per the demand of the abductors. They have no option."
Speaking to rediff.com, he said the company, Universal Services, is quite well known and owned by Kuwaiti Arabs.
":Normally Kuwaitis have very good business sense. On the basis of my experiences with them I believe that this company will withdraw from Iraq."
Meiji, who is on a visit to India, said that last month an Indian was among seven truck drivers kidnapped by a jihadi outfit in Iraq. The incident was not much publicised. But when the abductors saw his "Hindi" (which is what they call Indians) passport, they released all of the victims, he claimed.
Meiji, whose company PCP International is in the construction and import- export business in Iraq, also has an office in Kuwait. He said recently, his son Alfred had to leave his car on the Kuwait border when he entered Iraq, and his Basra branch office had to arrange for his transport.
" Iraqis and Kuwaitis have mutual dislike. Their hostility is quite deep.All the Kuwaiti companies are employing non-Kuwaitis to operate in Iraq. So much is threat on them in Iraq that they use neutral registration numbers on their trucks before they enter Iraq."
Over the last few months, almost all the Jordanian and Kuwaiti companies have been closed down in Iraq, says Meiji. His businesses have not been affected, he said, because almost 90 per cent of his staff is Iraqi, and his company deals with Iraqi government departments and not with Americans.
"Its very important for Iraq based jihadis to know for whom you are working," he said.