Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister, reiterated in the Rajya Sabha that until ‘concrete proof’ of their death is provided, she will not declare the missing Indians dead. With still no news of the missing Indians, Ms. Swaraj gave assurance that the government was not giving up on the search for them. Her comments come after an important meeting she held in New Delhi with Ibrahim al-Jafari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister. The 39 Indians had gone missing when ISIS terrorists abducted them from Mosul nearly three years ago. Most of them are laborers from Punjab.
When Mosul was freed by the Iraqi forces this month from the clutches of ISIS, there was no word on the missing Indians. The government stated that they may be in Badush, about 25 km away. But when a section of the media reported that the Badush prison had been razed and there was no trace of the Indians, Ms. Swaraj was accused of misleading the nation.
Ms. Swaraj got into a heated argument with Congress MPs Ambika Soni and Pratap Singh Bajwa who demanded to know why she didn’t believe the word of Harjit Masih, the only Indian to have escaped out of the group of 40 missing. Abducted in June 2014 along with the other 39, Masih claims the rest were shot dead by the ISIS. Ms. Swaraj said she had sound reasons for not trusting the word of Masih. She stated that she was the first person he spoke with after he contacted the Indian authorities, and when she repeatedly asked him about how he was the only one to survive when they were all shot dead, she claimed he said he didn’t know.
The Congress MPs demanded to know who Ms. Swaraj’s sources were on the basis of which she claimed them to be alive. She refused to discuss and disclose the issue on the floor as it might put ‘their lives in danger.’ But she acknowledged that all the information she had on them was culled from various sources and none had any evidence to support their claims.
Ms. Swaraj denied the charges of the opposition that she had misled the families of the missing abducted Indians. She asked what it profits her to mislead them and the nation on the issue. She reiterated that the government would continue the search for them until given ‘concrete proof’ of death.