Issuing a statement in Rajya Sabha today, External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, confirmed that all the 39 Indian construction workers abducted by ISIS in June 2014 were dead. The Indian construction workers were mostly from Punjab. They were kidnapped in Mosul, Iraq.
In the second week of June 2014, Indian officials in Baghdad said they had lost contact with 40 construction labourers, many of them from Punjab, who had been working on a government construction project in Mosul.
The whereabouts of 39 Indians who were working in the war-torn Iraqi city Mosul have been unknown for three years now. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj made a statement in Lok Sabha on Wednesday, saying that “It is a sin to declare a person dies without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin”. Ms Swaraj’s statement comes two days after she spoke to Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari on the issue.
Here is the lowdown:-
Thousands of Indians living in Iraq fled the country during 2014 as the Islamic State advanced. In the second week of June 2014, Indian officials in Baghdad said they had lost contact with 40 construction labourers, many of them from Punjab, who had been working on a government construction project in Mosul. They believed the Indians were abducted by the IS.
The Indian Embassy and the external affairs ministry have been using various diplomatic channels to establish contact with the abductors as well as the abductees. They are also in touch with the families of the abductees. But the government has never been in direct negotiation over the release of the men and has not confirmed if they have any concrete evidence they are alive.
The return of an abductee
A few days after the abduction, IS released about 55 Bangladeshi workers. One Indian, Harjit Masih, managed to flee making use of this opportunity. Masih claimed all the 39 men, barring him, were executed by the terrorists shortly after they were captured. However, the government is not willing to buy Masih’s claim. Ms Swaraj said she has “six other sources” telling her that the Indians are still alive.