NEW DELHI: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday met family members of 39 Punjabis who have been held hostage for over- one-and-a-half years by the Islamic State terror group in Iraq and said the “entire Arab world” had promised to help India in securing their release.
Sushma, who met the families for the ninth time since the Indian workers’ abduction, said the hostages in Mosul were alive and that every possible effort was being made to ensure their release. The minister also assured the families that the government would inform them once it received some concrete proof for the well-being of the Indian captives.
“Up until now, we were getting information indirectly, but I received information directly when I visited Bahrain,” the Union minister said.The minister told the families that during her recent Palestinian visit, President Mahmoud Abbas had told her that as per intelligence information, the Indian workers in Iraq were alive. Sushma had travelled to Palestine and Israel on January 17 and 18. During her Bahrain visit on January 23 for the first India-Arab League Cooperation Forum, the forum had adopted a declaration expressing concern over the kidnapping of 39 Indian workers in Iraq in June 2014 and three Indian workers in Sirte, Libya, in June 2015. “The Arab side expressed full solidarity with India in all efforts for their early release from captivity,” she told the families.
Sushma further said she had spoken to her counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as other countries in the region about the safe release of the Indian captives.