Bollywood stars may help free Indian hostages

Amitabh BachchanThe Iraqi tribal leader negotiating the release of three Indian drivers held hostage by militants said they could come closer to freedom if Bollywood superstars appealed on television.
“If Indian actors like Amitabh Bachchan and Dharmendra go on TV and request not only me but the kidnappers and other Iraqis to solve the story, then the drivers could be released,” Sheikh Hisham al-Dulaimi told the Indian...
...magazine Outlook in its issue released on Saturday.

Bachchan and Dharmendra have played in Hindi cinema’s action sagas and bittersweet dramas for decades, often starring together, developing a massive fan base that has crossed geographic and linguistic boundaries.

Dharmendra is a member of the Indian parliament. Bachchan, who is not actively political, remains India’s top film star at age 61. Dulaimi said his favourite Hindi actress was Asha Parekh, Bollywood’s “dancing queen” of the 1960s. “The hostages would be released today itself. If she calls me herself, that’s what will happen,” he said.

Asked about the mediator’s call for Bollywood intervention, Indian junior foreign minister Edappakath Ahamed told Outlook: “We haven’t been told anything about it yet.”

Dulaimi is trying to secure the release of the three Indian truck drivers — Antaryami, Tilak Raj and Sukhdev Singh — who were kidnapped with three Kenyans and one Egyptian on July 21.

The previously unknown Islamic Secret Army-Holders of the Black Banners group has threatened to kill the hostages unless their employer, the Kuwait and Gulf Link Company Limited, pulls out of Iraq.

The militants also demanded that Iraqi detainees be freed from US and Kuwaiti prisons and that damages be paid to families of victims in Fallujah, which has seen intense bombardment by US troops seeking out insurgents.