CHANDIGARH: Following the release of Mosul from ISIS by the Iraqi forces, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, on Monday, assured Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh that her ministry was making all-out efforts to trace and facilitate the return of the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, who had been held hostage in Mosul since 2014.
These families have already met Sushma Swaraj about a dozen times in this regard. Reacting to the fact that the families of the Indian hostages were trying to locate their kin after the release of Mosul by Iraqi forces from the ISIS, Amarinder Singh called up Swaraj on Monday afternoon to seek her intervention in the matter.
In his telephonic conversation with the minister, the chief minister said the families of the hostages were keenly awaiting the return of their kin following Iraq’s victory over ISIS in Mosul and needed the central government’s support in bringing back their family members.
Assuring of all possible efforts by her ministry to bring back the Indians, who were construction workers taken into custody in 2014, Swaraj said Gen V K Singh had been sent to Iraq to coordinate with the Iraqi government to facilitate the return of the Indians stuck there. She said she had also directed the Indian embassy to extend all help to the stranded Indians.
Air Indian officials at the airports had also been instructed to facilitate their return, said Swaraj, adding that her ministry had activated all available sources to trace the missing Indians, who were last heard of hiding in a church in Mosul.
Multiple channels have been activated to bring them back to India, the union minister informed Amarinder Singh, who said the state government would take all steps to enable them to get back to their homes once they return to their country.
While Swaraj held meetings with the families of the hostages over the months, Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised the issue with other Middle Eastern countries. Amarinder Singh said he was hopeful that the 39 Indians would be back home soon, now that Mosul was no longer in the control of ISIS.
Seema of Chawinda Devi village in Amritsar district whose husband Sonu has been stuck there for the last three years said, "The last time we met Sushma Swaraj, she assured us that once things normalise in Mosul, the government would bring everyone back.”