Indians held hostage by ISIS still alive: Sushma Swaraj

  • Confirms 39 Indians in ISIS captivity are safe
  • Govt working in adverse circumstances for ensuring release
  • Written communication received confirming their safety

(P Ravi)

New Delhi, November 28: Clarifying on the media report that was made based on statements by two Bangladeshi nationals that they were released by the dreaded Islamist group ISIS and that they had spoken to the lone survivor, Harjeet Bassi, from the 39 Indians who were captured by the group, five months back; External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj made statements in both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. She said that the government believes that 39 Indians held hostage by ISIS in Iraq are still alive as there is no confirmation of reports that they have been killed.

Families and relatives of men stranded in Iraq offer prayers at a gurdwara in Amritsar-28

Families and relatives of men stranded in Iraq offer prayers at a gurdwara in Amritsar

According to the report by ABP News, 39 of the 40 Indian workers in ISIS’ captivity since June had been killed by the militant group near the city of Mosul. The network said that the report is based on interviews with two Bangladeshi nationals, identified as Shafi and Hassan, who claimed that they had spoken to the only surviving Indian captive named Harjeet Bassi, who is said to have claimed that he was witness to the executions of his Indian co-workers.

“On the one hand there is one source about which there is no confirmation. Six different sources have informed the government that they have not been killed,” Sushma Swaraj said after deputy leader of Congress Anand Sharma and Jyotiraditya Scindia raised the matter in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

“We do not accept his statement. Our prayers and hopes are alive. 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,” she said adding that as responsible government they would look for concrete evidence.

Family members of hostages-28

Family members of hostages

She had received written communication from different sources which maintain that the abducted Indians were not killed. Sushma Swaraj had shared the information with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and Food Processing Industries Minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal as most of them were from Punjab.

The government is working in “adverse circumstances” for ensuring their release and have been utilising all resources in the Gulf, including establishing contact with heads of states in the area, the Minister informed the parliament on the efforts taken by the government, “Two more officers, who can speak Arabic also, have been deployed for securing their release besides a senior IFS officer who is already on the job for the last five months and government has sought the help of former minister of state for external affairs E Ahamed, who has good contacts in the Gulf countries, to secure their release.”

“Shafi and Hassan have made the claim but they are not eye-witnesses and their statements are only secondary in nature. They have not said they were killed before them, they are only quoting Harjeet, who is one source whose confirmation no one has made,” she said.

Harjeet was in the group of 40 Indians who had been kidnapped in June but he later managed to escape. She also confirmed that Harjeet was in the government’s safe custody. “He faces threat to his life and can endanger the lives of others also.”

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