Search still on for Indians missing in Iraq: Sushma

Updated - May 23, 2016 04:51 pm IST

Published - November 28, 2014 01:23 pm IST - New Delhi

In this videograb from RSTV, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks in the Rajya Sabha.

In this videograb from RSTV, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj speaks in the Rajya Sabha.

The government told Parliament on Friday that it believes that the 39 Indians who were taken hostage by Islamic State militants in Iraq are still alive.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, who addressed both the Houses on the issue, pointed out that while six different sources had informed the government that the hostages are alive, some media reports quoted two Bangladeshis as saying that Harjeet Massih – a Punjab-based labourer who escaped from IS militants in Mosul – had told them that the other kidnapped Indians had been killed.

Ms. Swaraj’s statements came after Deputy Leader of Congress Anand Sharma raised the matter in the Rajya Sabha and his party colleague Jyotiraditya Scindia in the Lok Sabha.

Making an appeal to the House, Ms. Swaraj asked the MPs whether the government should go by the testimony of one person or that of six other sources. “We do not accept his [Harjeet’s] statement. Our prayers and hopes are alive,” Ms. Swaraj said, adding, “Our search for their safe release is on... It is my duty and responsibility to keep the hope of tracing them alive and bring them home safely.”

Mr. Massih’s family in Kala Afghana village in Gurdaspur district told The Hindu that he had called home on November 13 and said that he was staying with Indian intelligence officials. “He was calling from Erbil in Kurdistan. Harjeet said he was fine and might return to India in 10-15 days,” his brother Robin Massih said.

“We asked him about the fate of other Indians, but the call got disconnected,” he said.

(With additional reporting by Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar in Chandigarh)

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