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Still on Lookout For Indians Abducted by ISIS, Sushma to Address Parliament

With failed attempts to trace the missing Indians and with reports of the Badush jail, where the Government of India had claimed they were being held, destroyed, Sushma Swaraj will try to set records straight in Parliament on Tuesday.

Maha Siddiqui | CNN-News18

Updated:July 25, 2017, 12:09 PM IST
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Still on Lookout For Indians Abducted by ISIS, Sushma to Address Parliament
File photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.
New Delhi: Three years ago around this time of the year, Harjit Masih, one of the 40 kidnapped Indians in Mosul, came back home after escaping ISIS custody to tell a tragic tale. He claimed that the 39 other Indian labourers in Islamic State's captivity had been killed. It is this claim that the Government of India, more specifically, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has been refuting since 2014. Sources have been claiming that there is no evidence to suggest that the Indians kidnapped by the extremist group in Iraq's second biggest city were dead.

With failed attempts to trace the missing Indians and with reports of the Badush jail, where the Government of India had claimed they were being held, destroyed, Sushma Swaraj will try to set records straight in Parliament on Tuesday. She is expected to make a statement amidst an opposition demanding a privilege motion for misleading Parliament and the distraught families of those missing.

Since 10th July, when Mosul was liberated, activities with regards to tracing their whereabouts has gone up. MoS External Affairs VK Singh was sent to Erbil, Iraq within four days to bring back the Indians or at least gather more information. Meanwhile, even as Singh was unable to get any confirmation of their exact location, Sushma Swaraj once again met with the families, largely from Punjab, to assure them that the 39 were alive. She also met her Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al-Eshaiker Al-Jafari in New Delhi on Monday.

Though the Ministry of External Affairs divulged no details of what transpired at the meeting, it is believed that apart from other bilateral issues the matter of the 39 missing Indians figured prominently. While interacting with the media briefly the Iraqi foreign minister said, "We don't know whether they are dead or alive. We are equally concerned."

Last year, while replying to a pointed query by Congress' Ambika Soni as to whether the Government could get any specific inputs about the fate of these Indians, the government had replied, "Since the abduction of the Indian workers by ISIS in Iraq in June 2014, the Government of India has been actively following up the case of their release and safe return in coordination with the relevant agencies and is making effort and taking all necessary steps to secure their release."

The Ministry of External Affairs would want to make it clear that at no stage in the three years has it got an indication from Iraqi authorities and other countries it sought help from claimed that the Indians could have met with a tragic fate. It is this that the government is yet again expected to convey to the Parliament. There are reports that suggest these 39 could have been taken to Syria after the fall of the ISIS in Mosul. All eyes will be on Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday as she clarifies and gives information that her ministry has been able to gather over the fortnight to the Parliament.
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