New Delhi, Mar 20: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday told Rajya Sabha that 39 Indians, who went missing in Mosul in 2014, have been killed by ISIS. As the government confirmed the death of 39 abducted Indians, questions were raised why it hadn’t listened to Harjit Masih. Also Read - Major Rejig in Congress: Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni Dropped as AICC General Secys; Rahul's Loyalist Surjewala Gets Big Role
Harjit Masih had escaped the clutches of ISIS in June 2014. Harjit Masih had claimed that all the Indians were massacred. However, Sushma Swaraj had then said that Masih’s story was fake. (Also Read: Sushma Swaraj Slams ‘Insensitive’ Congress For Lok Sabha Disruption) Also Read - Delhi-based Sex Racketeer Sonu Punjaban Moves High Court Challenging Her Sentence by Dwarka Court
Swaraj, while speaking in Parliament today dismissed the claims that were made by Masih saying that he was not willing to tell her how he escaped. “Harjit Masih is just an individual, he could claim 39 others are dead, but we are the Government, we can’t say this so easily. We have to be responsible.” Also Read - Ahead of CWC Meet, Congress Says Sonia Gandhi Not Resigning as Interim Chief, Calls Media Reports ‘False’
“I had told the truth. The government has misled the 39 families who lost their relatives,” said Harjit Masih after Swaraj announced in Rajya Sabha that the 39 Indians who had gone missing in Iraq in 2014 had died.
Expressing grief at the death of 39 Indians in Iraq, Randeep Surjewala said, “Modi government has passed all limits of heartlessness, when the whole world was saying they have died, the Indian Govt assured the country and the kin seven times that they are alive.”
Raising questions at the government, Shashi Tharoor said, “When one man (Harjit Masih) kept on saying they were dead, why didn’t the government believe him and what did it do for the last three and a half years?”
HOW DID HARJIT MASIH ESCAPE?
Harjit Masih and 39 others were abducted on June 11, 2014, when they were trying to escape ISIS siege on Mosul. The men, Masih claimed, were abducted from a factory and shifted to an unknown location in Iraq. The ISIS men made all the men sit on their knees and opened fire.
Masih claimed he was shot in his thigh and soon after, he lost consciousness. Masih regained his consciousness the next day and escaped.
Masih was arrested in 2017 for human trafficking and cheating after families of the abducted Indians filed a complaint against him. The families claimed that they had paid Masih approximately Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for visas and jobs abroad.
SUSHMA SWARAJ’S STATEMENT IN RAJYA SABHA
Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday informed Rajya Sabha that the 39 Indians who had been working in Iraq are dead. Clarifying her stand, Swaraj said, “We had been saying that we neither have the evidence of them being alive nor the evidence of them being dead. We maintained this in 2014 and 2017 and we did not keep anyone in dark. We have not given false hopes to anyone.”
“Some kin of the victims have questioned as to why they were not told about the deaths before the parliament. It is a parliamentary procedure to first inform the house, so it was my duty,” she added.