NEW DELHI: THE government is not ready yet to conclude that 39 missing Indians in Mosul are dead. Union external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday asserted that there is no evidence on whether the missing Indians in Mosul are dead and it would be a sin to claim this. She told the Lok Sabha that it was the government’s duty to keep looking for them. “I will not commit the sin of declaring them dead without any evidence,” Swaraj said in the Lower House.
Explaining the government’s stand, she said, “There are no bodies, no bloodstains, no list, no ISIS videos.” The government, Swaraj said, has been in touch with countries in the region, including Turkey, which can help India in the case.
Swaraj made it clear that the government will continue its efforts to trace the Indians till it gets evidence that they were dead. “This file will not close till there is proof that the 39 Indians were dead,” her statement, which came after holding talks with the Iraqi foreign minister on the issue, said.
The group of Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab region, was taken hostage by ISIS when it attacked Mosul in 2014. The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were intercepted. Family members of the missing Indians have alleged of government not making things clear on the issue.
The external affairs minister said she had never misled Parliament or the families of the abducted Indians. “I never misled. I want to ask the opposition what benefit will I get by misleading. What benefit my government gets by misleading the people on the issue,” she added.
Swaraj said she told her Iraqi counterpart that she will not accept anything on the issue without “proof” and requested him to continue the search for them.
Swaraj cited the example of the Congress government declaring a soldier martyr in 1971 war and after 45 years, it was found that he was in a jail in Pakistan.
“If someone feels they are dead, you are free to go to the families. But if anyone of them (Indians) comes back, then it will be your responsibility. Similarly, their families are free to carry out ardas (rituals) but it will be their responsibility if someone comes back,” she said.