Moments after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that Mosul had been fully reclaimed from IS militants, family members of Indian workers from Punjab, reported missing from the city three years ago, started making frantic calls to Ministry of External Affairs for information. Thirty-nine Indian men, most of them from Punjab, were believed to have been abducted by IS militants on June 11, 2014.
“I called up (Minister of External Affairs) Sushma Swaraj’s personal assistant, Satish Gupta, in the afternoon, asking him about the abducted men in the wake of Iraqi government announcing recapture of Mosul. He told me that there was nothing like this. He told me that he would cross check and let me know. Now, I have been making repeated calls to him, but he is not answering,” sister of one of the abducted men, Manjinder Singh, told The Indian Express over phone on Sunday evening.
Gurpinder Kaur added: “They (MEA) had said they know the exact location of the abducted men and they already had a word with the Iraqi government (to rescue them after Mosul was freed). Now they are not ready to even admit that Iraqi forces have recaptured Mosul.” She said her calls to Sushma’s additional personal secretary, Vijay Dwivedi, went unanswered. During a meeting with family members of abducted men in New Delhi on June 8, Sushma had assured them that as per government sources in Iraq, a group of Indian men were there in a “church” in an area that was yet to be liberated from IS militants.
In her series of meetings with family members, Sushma has been maintaining that according to sources, the abducted men were still alive in Iraq. “After hearing the news, I called up Sushma Swaraj’s PA. He did not answer. I have been calling him for long now. If he is busy, he generally sends a message back. But, today, there was no message either,” said Manish, whose brother Harish is among those missing.
“All families are trying to contact MEA. I also made a few calls, which were unanswered. I hope MEA will revert back in the night,” said Devinder Singh, brother of another missing man, Gobinder Singh. Sarwan Singh, whose brother Nishan Singh is among those untraceable, said: “I spoke to Sushma Swaraj’s PA a couple of days back. He told me to wait saying that we will get to hear and see good news.”