Govt not to abandon search for 39 abducted Indians in Iraq: Sushma

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 28 Jul 2017 09:07:35



THE sources who gave the Government confidence of not abandoning the search for 39 Indians abducted in Iraq include a “head of state and a Foreign Minister of another country,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

She, however, refused to disclose the identity of the sources, citing “diplomatic confidentiality”. Making a statement in response to Zero Hour mention on the issue raised by Pratap Singh Bajwa (Cong) on July 19, Swaraj vehemently denied that she ever misled Parliament or the country on the fate of the people abducted three years back.

She said that she has all through maintained that there is no proof of the abducted Indians being alive or dead.
And in absence of “solid proof”, it is a “sin” at personal level and irresponsible act on the part of the Government to declare them dead, the minister said.

She asked, “Why should I apologise? That I did not declare them dead?”
Opposition Congress, however, tried to corner her by saying the Government has been changing goal posts all through and she has to give “one proof” for believing they are alive.

“I have said in Parliament and outside that I have no evidence of their being alive or dead,” Swaraj said, adding in absence of any solid evidence or proof she cannot presume them dead.
“We are not sitting idle. All countries which can help have been asked for help,” she said and added, “Why will I mislead? What will I gain? What will I gain, what will my Government gain by misleading?”

Bajwa countered Swaraj’s assertion, asking what would Harjit Masih, one of the abducted Indians who had escaped, gain by claiming that he had witnessed the 39 being shot dead.

Responding to this, the minister said she was first to speak to Masih after he called up on but did not provide convincing reply how he was able to escape from the IS captivity.

Also, family of one of the abducted persons had received a call from the captors, saying the captive was alive, she said.

The minister threw a challenge to the Congress leader, saying if he was convinced that the Indians are dead, he can call up the families and tell them that.