Thirty-nine Indians abducted in Iraq by the Islamic State three years ago may be lodged in a jail in Badush in northwest Mosul, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Sunday said, and added that her Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim Al Jaafari may bring fresh information about them when he visits India on July 24.
Swaraj on Sunday briefed family members of the abducted men, who are mostly from Punjab, about information gathered by the Minister of State for External Affairs, V K Singh, who was also present at the meeting and was sent to the Gulf nation after its Prime Minister announced the liberation of Mosul from the IS. She said an authoritative official, quoting intelligence sources, told Singh that the Indians were deployed at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm. They were then taken to a jail in Badush in West Mosul, where fighting between the IS and Iraqi forces is on.
“East Mosul has been completely freed from IS and now buildings are being sanitised and authorities are not allowing civilians to go there as there may be bombs and other explosives,” Swaraj said. There would be fresh information once the fighting in Badush was over, she added.
The Indians are believed to have been abducted in Mosul in June, 2014 and their families had made frantic calls to the MEA when Mosul was liberated from the grip of IS by Iraqi forces. However, they expressed disappointment after their meeting with Swaraj.
“Jeri umeed bani si oh vi tor diti (The little hope we had is shattered),” said Gurpinder Kaur, sister of one Manjinder Singh who went missing. “In the meeting last month, the minister told us that the men were in a church and once Mosul was freed from IS militants, they would be rescued and brought back. Today she said that they are probably in a prison in Badush. While the church is on the eastern side, Badush prison is on the west.
When I asked about this, V K Singh said that the information relating to the church was not substantial. He said that he had met Iraq’s National Security Advisor in Baghdad who told him that the group of Indians were kept in Badush prison sometime ago,” said Gurpinder, adding that Singh said that the Iraq government was not aware of the latest developments.
“ Hun sab rab de aasre hai (It is all in God’s hands now). We have been told to wait till the fight is over in Badush,” said Gurpinder. Devinder Singh, brother of one Gobinder Singh, said, “We have been told that it might take two to three months before the fight is over in Badush.”