39 Indians held captive in Iraq since June ’14 alive: Sushma
The 39 Indians, who have been held as captives by the dreaded ISIS in Iraq since June 2014, are believed to be still alive, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, as she asserted that the government is making all efforts to bring them back.
Of the 40 Indians from Punjab, who were kidnapped by ISIS militants from a construction site in Mosul in June 2014, one of them escaped and claimed that the remaining captives might have been killed. The government had however denied the claim.
During the Question Hour, Swaraj referred to a recent meeting, in which foreign ministers from Arab countries and 15 ministers participated and said the leaders of two major nations had told her that the abducted Indians were alive.
Swaraj said if the Indians were stranded, the government would have brought them long back, but they are in the captivity of terrorists. “I completely don’t believe that those people are dead...If we believed that boy’s version, then I would have told this House that all are dead. But we don’t believe the boy’s claim and that is why we are searching for the people,” she said.
Swaraj said there has been no “big exodus” of Indians from foreign countries in the wake of steep fall in crude oil prices, which has adversely affected job prospects.
She was responding to a query on what action the government plans to take as many companies overseas were sending back Indians following a dip in oil prices, a matter of concern to Kerala that has a large number of NRIs. This is a future problem and the government is aware about it, she said.
Emphasising that welfare of Indians living abroad was a priority for the government, Swaraj said it is working from all sides to address the problems faced by them. Whenever such problems are brought to her notice, “I look at it personally and in case of emergency situations, we try to address the issue within 24 hours,” she said.