Dutchman safe in India 'hostage drama'
2 August 2004 , AMSTERDAM — A reported hostage drama in northern India turned out to be a false alarm on Friday after initial reports said 37 tourists had been abducted in protest against the kidnapping of three Indians in Iraq. A Dutch national was among the suspected abducted tourists.
2 August 2004
AMSTERDAM — A reported hostage drama in northern India turned out to be a false alarm on Friday after initial reports said 37 tourists had been abducted in protest against the kidnapping of three Indians in Iraq. A Dutch national was among the suspected abducted tourists.
Authorities in the Una district in India pressed the panic button when a TV channel “wrongly” stated that 37 foreigners — on their way from Dharamsala to Delhi — were taken hostage in the village of Santoshgarh, the Hindustan Times reported.
It was later verified that there was no “hostage-like” situation. The foreign tourists were simply stranded as were other commuters, but later departed again for Delhi.
It was reported on Friday that the Indian "kidnappers" were demanding the New Delhi government do more to secure the release of the three kidnapped Indians in Iraq.
They were allegedly taken hostage in the village of Santoshgarh, home of two of the kidnapped Indian truck drivers.
Islamic extremists have threatened to behead the three Indians, but conflicting reports emerged on Monday about the status of in total seven kidnapped truck drivers.
Kenyan government officials claim the men — three Kenyans, three Indians and an Egyptian — have been freed. But the drivers' Kuwaiti employers denied this, saying talks to secure their release were continuing, BBC reported.
Meanwhile, besides the Dutch national, 22 British, three Tibetan, two Polish, two Swiss, two South Korean, a Japanese, a Canadian, an American, an Israeli and Portuguese tourist were among those reportedly being held captive in India last week.
Police have since explained the tourists were en route to Delhi after visiting McLeodganj and were scheduled to arrive in Una at 10.30pm on Thursday. But their two buses were diverted to Santoshgarh as residents of the Dehlan village blockaded the road.
The bus reached Santoshgarh by 11.30pm, but they were stranded by a second road block. Police reinforcements were called in to provide security to the 37 foreigners.
The two buses and passengers were then escorted and brought to the Una mini-secretariat. At 4.30pm on Friday, the buses left for Delhi along with the police escort.
A Peruvian national, Luis Leon, told the Hindustan Times that the tourists had to spend the night in the bus and at 12 midday the next day, residents invited them to have food at a temple. He denied being treated like a hostage.
Despite this, The Times of India reported that a video broadcast on Indian TV on Thursday night had shown one of the bus drivers with a kidnapper pointing a gun to his head.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news