Family members of 39 Indians, who were abducted in Mosul three years ago, expressed pain and dejection after visiting Iraqi Foreign minister Ibrahim al- Jaafari said that he had no “substantial evidence” on whether the missing persons were killed or alive. The Iraqi minister had also stressed that best efforts were being made to get information about the 39 missing Indians. The kin of the missing men, however, were hoping that “concrete” information about the whereabouts of their dear ones would emerge during the Iraqi minister’s visit. “We feel very disappointed. We heard the Iraqi minister say that he does not know whether the 39 missing Indians were dead or alive. We were hoping that he will be able to provide some information or some clue,” said Davinder, whose elder brother Gobinder is missing. “But the minister clearly said he did not have any information about them,” Davinder added.
Gobinder was a resident of Murar village in Kapurthala. “Our family is very tense now; nobody has been able to eat anything,” Davinder told PTI. Family members of the other missing persons said that from the Iraqi minister’s statement, it was clear that the Indian government does have any concrete information about the missing. “Now it has become clear that Indian government does not know about the missing Indians. The government has kept us in the dark for the last three years,” said Sarwan.
Amritsar-based Sarwan’s 30-year-old brother Nishan had gone missing in Iraq. “The government told us on June 8 that our men were in a church in Iraq. Then on July 16, during a meeting with Union minister Sushma Swaraj, we were told that they might have been lodged in a jail in Badush in northwest Mosul,” said Sarwan. But a recent media report said that the jail was abandoned and it had been unoccupied for weeks, he added. He demanded that the government make the status of the missing Indians clear.
Gurpinder Kaur, whose 26-year-old brother Manjinder Singh is missing, said, “Now we do not know what to do. Our families were quite worried about the well being of our men.” The families have pinned their hopes on the statement External Affairs minister Swaraj is likely to make tomorrow in the Parliament. “We will listen to the statement of the Union minister tomorrow and after that we will decide the next course of action,” said Sarwan.
Among the 39 Indians who had been missing, 22 were from different places in Punjab including Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Jalandhar.
The issue was raised by Swaraj during extensive talks with her Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who began a five-day India visit today, nearly two weeks after Mosul was liberated from ISIS by Iraqi forces. “We don’t know whether they are dead or alive. We are equally concerned. There is no substantial evidence whether they are alive or not. We are making the best efforts,” the Iraqi foreign minister later told reporters.