The confirmation of the death of 39 Indian missing in Iraq’s Mosul has taken the country by storm. Speaking in Parliament, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has said that the 39 Indians have been confirmed dead after verification of their DNAs. However, there was one man, Harjt Masih, who was able to return alive from the site where incident took place. Upon his return, Masih had claimed that all the Indians were killed. Speaking to reporters outside Parliament, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor raised a point that why didn’t the government believe Masih.
“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. This is very disappointing,” Tharoor said. However, EAM Swaraj has said that Masih’s story was fake.
Masih’s story of escape, and then being jailed by Indian authorities on the charges of human trafficking is one compelling tale itself. A native of a village near Punjab’s Batala, Masih claimed he had been abducted with the rest of 39 people by ISIS. He further claimed that he saw all of them being shot dead by the abductors, and that he was able to escape unhurt.
In March 2017, Masih was arrested for offenses including human trafficking and cheating. The arrest of Masih, and one of his relative, Rajbir Masih, came on the directions of Ministry of External Affairs (MEA)
Masih’s sudden arrest came after families of nine of the missing men filed a complaint. The families alleged they had paid Masih and Rajbir sums ranging from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for visas and jobs abroad. However, Dubai-based Rajbir, who was declared an absconder in the case, told The Indian Express over the phone that the government was making them scapegoats in the matter.
The families questioned how only Masih could have escaped unscathed and alleged that Masih duo had “sold” the men to IS. Reports said Masih was kept under house arrest at a location in Delhi-NCR area. As per a relative, he was given a VIP accommodation by the government in Noida. In a statement, Swaraj had said in Parliament that Masih was kept in “protective care” of the government because of threat to his life “in view of his escape” from the IS.
How Masih escaped
Speaking to the Hindustan Times, Masih had claimed that he and his fellow workers were kidnapped from a factory and shifted to an unknown location. Narrating his story, Masih had said ISIS terrorist made all of the kidnapped men sit on their knees and open fire. Masih said he was shot in his right thigh and fell unconscious covered with bodies. Next day, he regained consciousness and fled the scene.
Swaraj has however said that Masih’s story was fake and he had escaped ISIS capture for acquiring a fake Muslim name ‘Ali.’