Indian media: Rescue citizens from Iraq

Sunni group ISIS has taken control of many Iraqi cities Image copyright AP
Image caption Sunni group ISIS has taken control of many Iraqi cities

Media are urging the government to take necessary steps to rescue 40 Indians kidnapped in the violence-hit Iraqi city of Mosul.

The men were construction workers, a ministry of external affairs spokesman said. India has not yet received any ransom demand.

Mosul is among a number of Iraqi towns and cities seized in the past week by the militant Sunni group ISIS.

"In such an explosive situation, India would have to use all possible resources to trace our citizens - mostly construction workers employed by Gulf companies or nurses and paramedical staff who have found jobs there with great difficulty," says The Asian Age.

The paper adds that "as a nation, we owe it to them to do all that is possible to try and trace their whereabouts and help them get back".

Echoing similar sentiments, The Tribune says: "India needs to adopt a proactive stance by protecting its citizens and evacuating them from the war zones, even as it assesses the steps it can take in the long term to play a more aggressive role in Iraq."

Hindi daily Amar Ujala says the abduction calls for immediate response from the Indian government.

'First crisis'

Newspapers and websites say the abductions have given Prime Minister Narendra Modi his "first foreign policy crisis".

"The newly elected government at the centre is facing its first major challenge. Like the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which caused problems for the NDA [National Democratic Alliance] government led by AB Vajpayee, Iraq is once again causing a big headache to Prime Minister Modi," says the CNN-IBN website.

The Hindustan Times' headline reads: "Trial by Iraq fire: Modi govt faces first foreign policy test".

The paper says the abduction of Indian construction workers has presented "the barely-month-old government its biggest foreign policy test".

Staying with foreign policy, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has raised the issue of Moscow's possible supply of MI-35 military helicopters to Pakistan during her talks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry O Rogozin, The New Indian Express reports.

India's concerns follow Moscow's announcement last week that it is "willing to supply MI-35 to Pakistan to assist the country in fighting terrorism", the report says.

Russia has long been the largest supplier of arms to India, with approximately 60% of Delhi's defence imports coming from the country.

And finally, the lions of the Gir forest in the western state of Gujarat are being "radio collared" to study their migration patterns outside the protected area.

The move comes in the wake of growing incidents of straying, reports The Pioneer.

"The study is being undertaken by a team of eight experts, researchers and trackers," the report adds.

According to the researchers, the results of the study "will enable the forest department to ensure better protection of lions and its habitat management in the long run".

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