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'What if they come up with a new demand?'
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | July 30, 2004 13:28 IST
Last Updated: July 30, 2004 15:08 IST
The crisis management group set up to deal with the Iraq hostage crisis began yet another round of meeting in the office of Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed on Friday morning to evolve a strategy to bring an early end to the episode.
At present, it is wondering how to deal with the changing demands of the abductors. Three Indians -- Antaryami, Tilak Raj and Sukhdev Singh -- are among the seven hostages.
The new demands compensation for the families of the Iraqis who died fighting American troops in Fallujah and the release of Iraqi prisoners in US and Kuwaiti jails before by Sunday.
The latest demand came on Wednesday. The abductors, a little known militant group called 'Black Flags', want an assurance from India in writing that the three Indian hostages are poor people who went to Kuwait in search of jobs and are not working for occupational forces. The abductors have reportedly insisted on the use of the words 'occupational forces' and not allied or American forces.
The CMG is now wondering whether an apology would serve the purpose. "What if they put up a new demand after getting an apology?" is the question.
The group would also discuss the concerns of the relatives of the three captive men. "We are using every single channel that is available to us to secure the release of the three Indians," a senior government official told rediff.com.
Senior officers of the ministry of external affairs, including foreign secretary-designate Shyam Saran and joint secretaries dealing with the Gulf countries, are attending CMG meetings. The group met for over four hours on Thursday night and decided to put out advertisements in major Arabic newspapers explaining the India government's stand on Iraq.
The terrorists had threatened to kill one Indian hostage if their demands were not met by Friday 8.30pm (Indian Standard Time).
The relatives of the hostages have appeal to the captors to release the men on humanitarian grounds and assured that they would never go to Iraq again. The appeals were made through Indian television channels.
Antaryami's father Ram Murthi has threatened to kill himself rather then receive the body of his son.