ISIS killed 39 Indians: Why was government quiet for 4years?
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday informed the Parliament that 39 Indians, abducted by ISIS terrorists in Iraq, were dead. Incidentally, the lone survivor Harjit Masih of the group had confirmed this information in 2014 itself. So, why did the government wait for four years to confirm this information? Why were the families given false hope? Here's more about it.
First off, how did the incidents unfold?
In June'14, Indian officials in Iraq lost contact with 40 construction workers, mostly from Punjab. They were abducted with some Bangladeshi workers while working at a government construction site in Mosul. Few days later, ISIS released the 55 Bangladeshi laborers. Masih, under a false identity, managed to flee and reportedly contacted Swaraj. He claimed that 39 Indians were shot dead just after being captured.
What happened to India's rescue mission in ISIS-controlled Iraq?
Initially, the government didn't believe him, saying there were "sources" claiming the Indians were alive. India appointed a special envoy Suresh Reddy to oversee the search. MEA hoped to use its connection with former President Saddam Hussein's Ba'athist fighters/generals who had now joined ISIS. Though they could evacuate 46 nurses from Tikrit through deft diplomacy, they failed to make any headway in this case.
Why didn't the government believe Harjit Masih's version?
Sushma said she didn't believe Masih's version as he wasn't willing to give details about his escape. She alleged he framed a "fake story" about how the 40 Indians were shot at by ISIS, but he survived because he was shot in the leg. She further added that after ISIS realized one Indian had escaped, they took the remaining 39 to a Badush prison.
How did Iraq confirm the deaths?
Incidentally, even Iraq was unsure about the fate of Indians. However, with "deep penetration radar" at a Badush prison, mass grave of bodies was discovered with ID cards and non-Iraqi shoes. DNA samples of missing Indians' relatives from Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal were sent to Baghdad. Once they matched and corroborated proof was obtained, Sushma made the announcement on national television.
Government's handling of the issue raises many questions
The government kept the hopes of the 39 Indians' kin up by "trusting unreliable sources" that the abducted were safe and kept hostages at an undisclosed place. Moreover, the aggrieved families lashed out at the government for not informing them first and "exploding the bomb on us" in Parliament. Despite their absolute need for evidence, government should have shown more sensitivity in handling the issue.