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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 21/06/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) do not speak to the media is the message passed on to the 46 nurses holed up in the upper floor quarters of the tikrit teaching hospital for the last 10 days.

the indian government has slapped a gag order on the hapless nurses trapped in the iraqi war zone of tikrit.

“do not speak to the media” is the message passed on to the 46 nurses holed up in the upper floor quarters of the tikrit teaching hospital for the last 10 days.

suresh reddy the emissary sent by new delhi to help secure evacuation of the nurses — all from the south indian state of kerala — is apparently annoyed by the worldwide media coverage of the ordeal of the women one of them told khaleej times from her abode at the hospital.

kerala chief minister oommen chandy told khaleej times he has heard about the development but the gag order is not a fair stand. “it’s completely unfair to be rude to women who are already troubled. we have to be considerate to people who are stuck in a war zone.”

“society has every right to know what is happening. we have genuine concern and responsibility towards our people trapped in iraq” chandy said.he said he has been putting pressure on the central government. “the external affairs secretary called to inform that the government is looking at every aspect of the crisis and weighing different options.”

the nurse who did not want to be identified because of embassy instructions said reddy spoke to all nurses on speakerphone and warned them not to talk to the press because information given to the outside world like their departure timings would endanger their life.

the gag order has ticked off some of the nurses. “the government has nothing to update us so where is the question of giving away sensitive information?” asked one of them. she said the envoys assured them whatever possible is being done to rescue them.

the nurse said news that other countries had managed to evacuate their staff from other hospitals while the indians are stuck is disheartening.

“yes we are worried but we don’t want to talk to anyone anymore. no more complaints” snapped the mother of one of the nurses apparently fearful of the diktat.

the department of non-resident keralites affairs where khaleej times’ telephone calls to helplines were unanswered for two hours on friday has also stopped giving any contact numbers to the media.

at midnight on thursday this reporter had received a frantic call from one of the nurses to check if rumours that all indians abducted from mosul have been killed by the abductors are true.

it took some time to calm down the sobbing woman and convince her that they are all safe as some of the construction workers had even called their families in punjab.

“give us some good news. when do you think we can make it?” she pleaded.

she said they had been living in the sweltering 45ºc plus desert temperature since wednesday noon due to an outage which continued till the wee hours of friday. there was no airconditioning and the hospital was working on generators.

she said the delivery of some food supplies by the international committee of the red cross on thursday with the instruction that “stock for crisis times” has also raised apprehension that the ordeal could last longer than expected.

another woman said the nurses who had been vocal about their desire to get out of the hellhole have been at the receiving end of mudslinging by “friends” of those who want to stay put in iraq.

she said they had received several abusive calls from some indians working in iraq for spreading “lies” about their situation.

“so if you ask us how we are we are absolutely fine” she said taking a dig at the government order.

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