All 39 Indian hostages in Iraq dead: Sushma Swaraj
After years of uncertainty about the fate of 39 Indians abducted by the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has confirmed they are dead. One of them had managed to escape in 2015. He had claimed the 39 had been shot dead in 2014 itself. But the government had insisted it would continue searching till it received conclusive information.
40 Indians kidnapped in Mosul during evacuation
In June'14, 40 Indians were taken hostage outside the Iraqi city of Mosul by the ISIS. The group of workers, mostly from Punjab, were waylaid as they were being evacuated from the area as fighting between the terrorists and government forces intensified. The Indian government got in touch with Iraqi officials and former Ambassador Suresh Reddy was dispatched to Mosul.
Escaped hostage claims all Indians in Mosul killed
In 2015, Harjit Masih returned alive. He claimed the others were killed in the desert near Badush in June'14. "(The terrorists) put us in a room and started firing. Everyone around me fell. I kept lying there and later escaped." But Swaraj dismissed his claims.
Hostages in Mosul safe, govt making all efforts: Swaraj
In 2016, Swaraj reiterated that the hostages were safe. She based her statement on meetings with Arab and Palestinian leaders. She told the families of those abducted that the Indian government was "fully and continuously engaged" and making every effort to secure their release. The same year, the SC directed the MEA to designate a nodal officer to assure better coordination with Baghdad.
'Won't commit sin of declaring them dead without proof'
Last July, Swaraj had said, "It's easy for me to declare them dead. Unless I get concrete evidence of their being killed, I'll continue to search. Because if a person's alive and we declare him dead, it's a sin and I won't commit this sin."
Was a most difficult task to get proof: Swaraj
Speaking in the Rajya Sabha today, Swaraj said they received confirmation yesterday that the DNA of the hostages had matched bodies exhumed from a mass grave near Mosul, one of the many in the area. One body was a 70% match. "We wanted to give the families closure only after getting concrete proof," she said. A moment's silence was observed in the Rajya Sabha.