New Delhi: An Indian origin IT professional may be among the hostages held by a gunman in a cafe in Australia, according to Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu who later said the reports were unconfirmed.
"We don't want to discuss it because there is some information that one of our IT persons is also there. So the External Affairs Ministry is keeping in touch with concerned people there-- both our embassy as well as our counterpart also," Naidu told reporters outside Parliament House.
Later, Naidu added that there were no confirmed reports and it was only preliminary information.
"There is some initial information that some people were taken hostage in Sydney by some person. What is the purpose, what is the motive, (it is) not known and our External Affairs Ministry is keeping in touch with our embassy there in Australia.
"So far information says that people who were held hostages are safe, no harm is done to them. All this information here and there-- nothing has been confirmed about any citizens of our country is in that or not. It is a sensitive matter. I request all people to show restraint till the issue is resolved," he said.
The Minister said whatever steps need to be taken are being taken.
Several people were taken hostage at a popular cafe in the heart of Sydney city in south-east Australia by one gunman this morning, leading to evacuation of important buildings, including the Indian consulate which is located 300-400 metres from the cafe. An Islamic flag was also reportedly seen hanging from the window of the cafe.
The Indian Consulate in Sydney was evacuated in view of the hostage situation in a cafe near its premises and all the staff members are safe, the External Affairs Ministry today said.
In Sydney, Consul General Sunjay Sudhir told PTI that due to security concerns "we locked down our office at 12:00 PM and asked all our officers to go to places of safety".
He said that the Central Business District (CBD) where the cafe is located is the area where many Indian establishments including the SBI, Bank of Baroda and Indian tourism office are located.
"We are in touch with the security agencies and have asked them specifically if any Indians were present inside the cafe...they have not told us about the nationality," Sudhir said.