Search for missing Indians to continue: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi : External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday declared that the search of 39 Indians missing since after their abduction by ISIS from Mosul in Iraq in June 2014 will continue until there is concrete proof of their death.

In a lengthy suo moto statement in the Lok Sabha, she clarified that she has not misled their families she met 12 time in three years or Parliament and she won’t commit the “sin” of declaring them dead without any evidence.

She said she was going in this regard by advice of her minister of state General (retd) V K Singh, who told her that the practice after a war is to put the soldiers into four categories: PoWs (prisoners of war) captured by the enemy country, missing, killed and believed to be killed. In case of the last category, the files are not closed till the proof of their death.

Asserting that she has no proof that they are alive or dead, Sushma said the visiting Iraqi foreign minister assured her to initiate a fresh probe and told her to “wait” for the result. She sought information from the Iraqi minister with evidence and told him that information may come from the warden of the prison where the Indians were last reported as lodged in 2016 and recently destroyed as to whether he has the list of the prisoners or if he can say from memory if there were any Indians. If dead in the prison collapse, there could be DNA test on their bodies, she said.

She wanted their images or their statements in Hindi or Gurumukhi as all of them are from Punjab or their phone calls to their families in India as a proof if they are alive, she said, asserting that until then their file will be kept open.

“This file will not be closed till there is proof that the 39 Indians were dead. I will not commit the sin of declaring them dead without any evidence,” Sushma said.

In another case a 7-year old boy mistakenly crossed the border while farming with his father and a writ petition has been filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to direct the government to trace him, Sushma added.

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