Opposition accuses government of shrouding Mosul deaths

A slanging match started between the government and the Congress which accused the Centre of misleading the country over the death of 39 Indian hostages in Iraq.

Published: 21st March 2018 06:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st March 2018 06:54 AM   |  A+A-

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and junior ministers VK Singh and MJ Akbar after the Press conference in New Delhi on Tuesday. | Parveen Negi

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: A slanging match started between the government and the Congress which accused the Centre of misleading the country over the death of 39 Indian hostages in Iraq. As the Congress and other parties disrupted both Houses of Parliament, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar blamed the Opposition for not letting External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj make a statement in the Lok Sabha after she spoke in the Rajya Sabha.

“You don’t have any feelings,” a miffed Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan told the protesting members.

As the news broke out, Congress leaders from Ghulam Nabi Azad, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Shashi Tharoor to former Punjab unit chief Partap Singh Bajwa, who had raised the issue several times in the Rajya Sabha, questioned the delay in announcing the deaths.Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala accused Sushma of misleading Parliament and the affected families seven times over the past four years.

He said the Centre made the announcement in a hurry as it panicked after the Martyrs Foundation in Iraq said it will hold a media briefing on the issue.“The Modi government was insensitive and inhuman to have repeatedly raised the hopes of these families, only to dash them later. Why is the government now evading crucial questions on the tragedy,” said Surjewala.

“The Modi government has passed all limits of heartlessness, when the whole world was saying they have died, the Centre assured the country and the kin seven times that they are alive,” he said.Surjewala said the statement on Iraq hostages came at time when the government was under immense pressure over the no-confidence motion moved by the TDP and the TRS in Parliament.

Both Azad and Scindia accused the government of not being interested in running Parliament and alleged the BJP wanted to avoid facing the Opposition’s questions on the PNB fraud and the genuine demands of the people of Andhra Pradesh.

In Punjab,  leaders across party lines demanded financial assistance for the families who lost their kin in Iraq. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the External Affairs Minister to provide all necessary assistance to the tragedy-hit families. Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal expressed his condolence to the families. 

(With inputs from Harpreet Bajwa)

TIMELINE

June 2014

As ISIS captures Mosul, 40 Indian construction workers go missing and are believed to be captured by the terror group

June 2014

The Indian Embassy in Iraq and the MEA try diplomatic channels to locate the men. No direct negotiations take place with the ISIS

June 2014

ISIS releases 55 Bangladeshi hostages of which Harjit Masih, an Indian, manages to flee. He claims the other Indians are ‘most likely’ executed

July 2014

Indian authorities detain Masih and interrogate him repeatedly. However, he is unable to provide details of his escape or the death of other Indians

September 2015

Sushma Swaraj dismisses Masih’s claims, saying all Indians are ‘alive and well’

July 2017

Sushma says the MEA had information that Indian hostages were held in captivity at Badush prison. In the skirmishes that follow between ISIS and Iraqi forces, the prison is completely destroyed. The Iraqi govt says it houses no inmates

July 2017

Sushma informs Parliament why her ministry refused to declare the hostages dead. “Declaring anyone dead without proof is a sin, and I won’t commit a sin,” she say

August 2017

Syrian Ambassador Riad Kamel Abbas says his govt had no information on the missing Indians

October 2017

MoS Foreign Affairs VK Singh visits Iraq to boost efforts for locating the missing Indians

March 2018

Sushma tells Parliament that 39 missing Indians were confirmed to be dead and their bodies had been found

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