39 Indians killed in Iraq’s Mosul: No govt can declare anyone dead without proof, says Sushma Swaraj

While maintaining that she did not keep anyone in the dark about the deaths, Sushma Swaraj said, "It would have been a sin had we handed over anybody's body claiming it to be those of our people, just for the sake of closing files."

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: March 20, 2018 7:18:06 pm
39 Indians killed in Iraq's Mosul: Our govt does not believe in 'missing, believed to be killed', says Sushma Swaraj Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj addressed a press conference over the death of the 39 Indians in Mosul, Iraq. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Ruckus ensued in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the Opposition raised slogans just as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was about to deliver a statement on the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul. While the Union Minister said all the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS terror outfit in Mosul in Iraq three years ago are dead and their bodies have been recovered, the house was adjourned for the day soon after amid slogan shouting by members from various parties. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan termed the scenes as unfortunate.

Unable to make an elaborate statement on the death of Indians in Iraq, Swaraj addressed a press conference today slamming the Congress for disrupting her speech and termed it as ‘cheap politics’. “Today Congress indulged in very low level of politics, probably Congress president thought how did no uproar happened in Rajya Sabha and decided to ask Scindia ji to lead protests in Lok Sabha. Playing politics on deaths,” said Swaraj. Also Read: 39 Indians kidnapped by Islamic State in Iraq are dead: Sushma Swaraj informs Parliament

Congress led the protests under Jyotiraditya Scindia in Lok Sabha, says Swaraj

Swaraj noted that while everyone listened to her statement patiently in the Rajya Sabha, she expected the same in the Lok Sabha but the Congress led by Jyotiraditya Scindia disrupted her speech. “In Rajya Sabha everyone listened to me speaking very patiently and in peace. Everyone paid tribute, I thought same would happen in Lok Sabha. But unlike the past few days of ruckus, today Congress led the protests under Jyotiraditya Scindia ji. Very unfortunate,” she said.

Giving details from the incident, Swaraj said, “Our govt does not believe in “missing, believed to be killed”. Declared about the death of 39 Indians only after getting proof. I personally talked to the foreign ministers of the respective countries, I went to them and asked them if they have any evidence they provide us the same.”

Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. (Source: Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

On questions raised by some kin of victims as to why they weren’t informed about the deaths before Parliament session, Swaraj explained it’s parliamentary procedure to first inform the house.” She also demanded that Congress explain why it disrupted Lok Sabha proceedings when she was to give details on deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq.

Swaraj says did not keep anyone in the dark about deaths

While maintaining that she did not keep anyone in the dark about the deaths, the External Affairs Minister said, “It would have been a sin had we handed over anybody’s body claiming it to be those of our people, just for the sake of closing files.”

Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

“Out of the deceased, 27 people were from Punjab, six from Bihar, four from Himachal Pradesh and two from West Bengal. The identity of one of them is yet to be verified. I am satisfied that I had stated that will declare them dead only on the day I have concrete evidence, I kept my word. I will get my closure when I would hand over the mortal remains to their families & they receive proper last rites,” added Swaraj.

Sushma Swaraj responds to Harjit Masih’s allegations

Responding to Harjit Masih’s allegation that the government knew about the deaths but did not reveal due to political reasons, Swaraj said, “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.” READ: Harjit Masih on 39 Indians killed in Iraq: My stand vindicated, case against me should be withdrawn

Masih was the lone survivor who had managed to flee from ISIS captivity in Iraq in June 2014 following his abduction along with 39 other Indians there. He had said today that he had been maintaining for the last three years that all others had been killed. A case was lodged against Masih after families of the “missing” 39 Indians registered a complaint on the directions of the Ministry of External Affairs. The MEA had then alleged that Masih had cooked up the story of the 39 Indians being killed. “Now, since the government has admitted that the men are dead, the case against me should be withdrawn,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Swaraj had given a statement in the Rajya Sabha on the issue of 39 Indians being killed while in captivity in Iraq. But in Lok Sabha, her speech was repeatedly disrupted by opposition members. That’s when Speaker Sumitra Mahajan wondered whether the members have become “insensitive” and have “lost compassion” towards fellow countrymen. “Don’t indulge in such politics. Don’t be so insensitive…this is a very sorry state…. It has never been such a sorry state (of affairs). It is sad,” the Speaker remarked.

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