Free Press Journal

39 Indians killed in Iraq: Cheap politics over human tragedy


Why do they feel the need to inject the virus of partisanship even in a human tragedy? There are a whole lot of things on which you can fault the government, probably for good reasons. But to pick on a human tragedy for which no one at least in India can be remotely blamed is a sign of sheer desperation. Unfortunately, the new Congress boss’s idea of opposition is to tear into the government, right or wrong.

This unthinking belligerence will come undone soon when people reject this blatant show of negativism, Rahul Gandhi should note. We are referring here to the inane Congress noises inside and outside Parliament following a belated announcement by the External Affairs Minister confirming the death of 39 Indian workers in Iraq. They were killed in cold blood by the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, at a time when the jehadi outfit had come to control this town and quite a few other areas. Sushma Swaraj erred on the side of extreme caution by not accepting the inevitable earlier, probably hoping against hope, along with the near and dear ones of the hapless blue-collar workers, that they might still be alive. But there was no way of knowing either way about their fate once they went missing about three years ago when the trouble-torn Iraq was wracked by violent internal strife.

With the writ of the Iraqi government not running in Mosul and other areas overrun by the IS fighters, even the authorities in Baghdad were in no position to pronounce on the condition of the Indian workers reported missing. How, then, anyone in his right mind can fault the Indian Government for mishandling the tragedy? If anything, the Government erred on the side of extreme caution insofar as it avoided pronouncing the deaths for so long with the laudable objective of not wanting to break the hearts of the relatives and friends of the deceased. Finally, when the IS was driven out of Mosul, and it was possible to undertake a comb the area for finding the whereabouts of the missing workers, accepting the inevitable became unavoidable.

The workers were lined up by the barbarian jehadis and shot dead in cold blood. In this context, the eyewitness account of one of the co-workers, who was fortunate to have escaped by pretending to be dead, was relevant. On his return to India, he revealed to the authorities what had happened but there was understandable reluctance to accept his version till supportive evidence from other sources. The criticism that Swaraj took too long to announce their death may not be valid because had she rushed to do so without waiting for the actual combing of Mosul after the overthrow of the IS, the same people would have blamed her for rushing to announce the deaths without first conclusively establishing the facts. Again, whether she should have informed the relatives of the deceased before informing Parliament is a ticklish issue because if she had done so, some people could have accused her of bypassing Parliament. Truly, a minister’s job is never easy, you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.