State: Back to Home, All Feathers Intact
Intro: Shruti and her colleagues were not aware of the gravity of the situation outside. Still with her 15 colleagues opted to come back home. But, due to several reasons, others were not ready to pack up.
At last the Indian nurses from Iraq returned home last week after three weeks uncertainty and tension. Indians in general and Keralites in particular were gloomy about the return of the nurses. The situation in their families was worst. At some point of time they had even given up their hopes. Even though the occasional calls they received from their dear ones gave them some sort of solace, the shouting, and blasts they overheard gave them sleepless nights. The same time several media reports were adding insult to the injury. The way some of them reported could lead the nurses’ families to more agony. And, political rumour mills worked overtime. All non BJP party leaders in Kerala kept on saying that Modi government did not take the matter seriously. One could not find an iota of sincerity or sympathy or empathy, in their words, towards the nurses in Iraq and their grieved families back home.
Assembly Speaker, G Kathikeyan made a special reference to the matter for presenting it before the House. He showered praises on Minister for External Affairs (MEA), Sushma Swaraj, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Indian Ambassador to Iraq for their concerted efforts to ensure the return of the nurses. Chandy went to the extent of stating that the united efforts of Swaraj, her ministry, himself and Indian Ambassador worked cutting across party lines hence turned instrumental for bringing the nurses back. And, he thanked the Almighty.
Common and elite Keralites know who did what. They know the efforts of MEA in Damascus for co-ordinating the efforts to bring back the nurses as well as the remaining Indians from Iraq. This time they found a difference in the union government’s modus operandi. Ministers, of both Centre and State, did not brief the media. The only source of information for the media was Syed Akbaruddin, MEA’s ‘matter-of-fact’ spokesman. State BJP Chief V Muraleedharan told that the return of the nurses is the diplomatic victory of Modi government. He demanded the rehabilitation package, for the returnees, from State government’s end.
Shruti Sashikumar, native of Kottyam, is one of the 46 nurses returned from Iraq last week. She told, “It was on the June 12, we heard about sporadic clashes taking place in Iraq. 46 nurses remained in their work place in Thikrit Trity Hospital, when all the natives left the place as fights started. We heard about the clashes from those natives who fled the hospital.”
Shruti worked in pediatric ward. When she went to work on the June 13, there were no patients and doctors. Rebels had taken control of the hospital. She was asked to go the hostel; they would call her if necessary. Shruti and her colleagues were not aware of the gravity of the situation outside. Still herself and her 15 colleagues opted to go back home.
Shruti told to Organiser that, a rebel came on July 1 and told them that they would be shifted to Mosul. When the nurses boarded the bus; immediately blast occurred in the hospital. Broken glasses fell on some of us. The whole hospital was razed in an another blast half and hour after the nurses left. The drive took about 10 hours to reach Mosul. Rebel bought them food, water, watermelon and mangoes and pacified them saying nothing to worry. Quite often, the rebel asked if there is any Muslim among them and the nurses refused.
They were informed that their destination was Irbil Airport for flying to India. When they reached Irbil Airport, some Keralites were awaiting with food. When they reached Kochi International Airport they were surprised to see their families in total distress due to the rumours which they heard about the dear ones’ plight. In fact, travel was the only painful matter for them. Shruti told that they all are grateful to Central and State governments, embassy officials, and all those who prayed for them. —T Satisan, Kerala