39 abducted Indians in Iraq may be in jail, says Sushma
Thirty-nine Indians abducted in Iraq by the ISIS three years ago may be lodged in a jail in Badush in northwest Mosul, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said, and added that her Iraqi counterpart may bring fresh information about them when he visits India on July 24.
Swaraj on Sunday briefed family members of the abducted men, who are mostly from Punjab, about information gathered by the Minister of State for External Affairs, V K Singh, who was sent to the Gulf nation after its Prime Minister announced the liberation of Mosul from the dreaded terror group ISIS.
Swaraj said an authoritative official quoting intelligence sources told Singh the Indians were deployed at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm. They were then taken to a jail in Badush in West Mosul, where fighting between the ISIS and Iraqi forces is carrying on.
Ministers of state Singh and M J Akbar and senior ministry officials were also present at the meeting with the family members.
She said Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al Jaafari is scheduled to visit India on July 24 and may bring updated information about the missing men.
"East Mosul has been completely freed from ISIS and now buildings are being sanitised and authorities are not allowing civilians to go there as there may be bombs and other explosives," she said.
In West Mosul, fighting is still carrying on, she said.
"An official who quoted intelligence sources told Gen Singh that they were deployed for a hospital construction and then in a farm. From there, they were sent to a jail in Badush. There has been no information since then," Swaraj told reporters.
There would be fresh information once the fighting in Badush was over, she added.
Swaraj said she had spoken to foreign ministers of all the countries in the region which could help India in locating the men. The external affairs minister had written a letter to her Iraqi counterpart and it was handed over to him in Baghdad by Singh. Singh returned from Iraq yesterday.
She said if required, Singh would again travel to Iraq.
We called family members of all those who were abducted in Iraq. I had already met them 10 or 12 times, but this time the situation was different as the Iraqi prime minister had declared that Mosul had been freed from the ISIS. That very day I asked V K Singh to go to Iraq and collect details about the Indians, Swaraj said.
The Indians were abducted by the ISIS in Mosul in June 2014.