Hostage drama takes a bizarre turn

Iraqi insurgents do watch Bollywood flicks

Fears that Iraqi insurgents do not follow Bollywood scripts and hence not play tango with the Indian government’s hostage negotiation strategy were unfounded. Shiekh Dulaimi, an Iraqi do-gooder who is ‘helping’ in the negotiations has just demanded that Hindi film icons of yesteryears make an appeal for the release of the Indian truck drivers the Iraqi kidnappers are holding hostage. Before this is over, it would not be a surprise if Hema Malini is asked to dance over broken shards of glass while singing that famous song from Sholay. Thanks to all these bizarre twists and turns, the hostage drama is fast reducing into a farce, or so it would appear.

But resorting to the celluloid emotions is usually a cover for the real deal where it is hard currency that changes hands. It was money that secured the release of Kannada movie star Rajkumar from the clutches of Veerappan, a notorious outlaw. The story for public consumption was that Rajkumar was able to give Veerappan the slip after singing him (probably a particularly sleep inducing) song. That the Iraqi kidnappers have dragged the negotiations so long, and inserted last-minute demands everytime a deal is supposedly close suggests that it is simply a case of bargaining over ransom. And a government that has given in to the kidnappers’ every whim and fancy has no real choice but to oblige.

Updates:

But others in Bollywood were also willing to appeal and intervene. Said Salman Khan: ‘‘They can take me as a hostage but they must release my countrymen.’’ [Indian Express]

Now that’s a good idea, Mr Khan.

The crisis management group (CMG) has reiterated that the government will not negotiate with the abductors of three Indians in Iraq and will not entertain any demand for ransom. It will, however, step up back channel negotiations.[HT]

So what was the Crisis Management Group doing all these days then?