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All 18 stranded Indians leave Iraq

July 07, 2004 23:16 IST

All the 18 Indians who were stranded in Fallujah, Iraq, have left the country with assistance provided by the Indian missions in Baghdad and Amman, External Affairs Minister K Natwar Singh has said.

In reply to a letter from Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president M Karunanidhi, who took up the plight of the Indians, including two from Tamil Nadu, with Singh on July 2, the minister said the delay in their departure was on account of the time involved in arranging transit visas for them from countries neighbouring Iraq.

As there is no dependable air link with Iraq at present, travel to and from that country involves transit through nearby countries, Singh said. A copy of his reply to Karunanidhi was released to journalists in New Delhi today.

As for the Indian company that was involved in misleading the 18 men into placement in Iraq, the protector general of emigrants has issued a show-cause notice preparatory to prosecution, Singh said.

He said instructions have been sent to the Indian embassy in Baghdad to establish contacts with Indians in various parts of Iraq so that other cases of Indians who might be wanting to return home are dealt with expeditiously.

Karunanidhi, in his letter to Singh, had requested him to take steps to bring back the 18 Indians stranded in Iraq.

Addressing a press conference in Chennai on July 1, the family members of two of the victims had said that the 18, recruited by a Mumbai-based agency, had been detained at a camp in Fallujah for unexplained reasons.

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