New Delhi: External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj has dismissed the allegations that the lone survivor, Harjit Masih, who escaped from Iraq’s Mosul, was harassed and kept in a protective custody.
While addressing the media on the issue of 39 Indians killed in Mosul, Swaraj on Tuesday said, “It is baseless that Harjit Masih was harassed, he was kept in protective custody. I had said this in Parliament earlier.” The EAM earlier confirmed that all the 39 Indians, who went missing in Mosul in the year 2014, were killed by the Islamic State (IS).
Swaraj further said, “Masih is just an individual, he could claim 39 others are dead; but we are the Government, we cannot say this so easily. We have to be responsible.” Masih had escaped with a group of Bangladesh colleagues under the assumed name of “Ali” and was found by Indian officials at Erbil.
The EAM also said that Minister of State (MoS) External Affairs General V.K. Singh will go to Mosul in Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the 39 Indian nationals killed there. Swaraj explained that the plane carrying the mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and Kolkata.
When she was asked whether the government will give compensations to the families of those killed in Mosul, Swaraj said, “It is premature to answer this question. We have to talk to the state governments also,” adding, “Let us hand over the bodies first.” In July last year, Swaraj had firmly said in the Parliament that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.
Earlier, India had asked Iraq for help in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from IS. The 39 persons, most of whom hailed from Punjab, were working on projects near Mosul when they were kidnapped during their evacuation.