The Hindu – Iraq not sure of fate of 39 Indians

No substantial evidence: Minister

Kallol Bhattacherjee

New Delhi, 24 July 2017. Iraq on Monday said it could not confirm if the 39 Indian nationals who were kidnapped by the Islamic State in 2014 were alive.

Speaking to the media after holding bilateral discussions with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said there was no “substantial evidence” with Baghdad to prove that the men were alive or dead.

“The case is not just the concern of the Indian government and the families of the men in India; this issue is also a concern of the Iraqi government.

We have no substantial evidence that they were killed or they were still alive, so we can’t say anything to you in that regard. We are making serious efforts to find out more in this issue,” said Mr Al-Jaafari.

Frank admission

The Minister’s comments are the most open admission by the government of Iraq about the condition of the 39 Indians, who last spoke to their families from Mosul to say that they had been kidnapped by the IS.

The comments are significant coming as they do after government forces regained control around three weeks ago over Mosul, where the Islamic State had maintained control since June 2014.

It was expected that the missing Indians would be found following the liberation of the city, but that has not happened since the Iraqi army regained retook the city.

The also follows recent reports that the prison in the nearby city of Badush, where the abductees were allegedly held, is now destroyed and empty. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had announced the presence of the prisoners in Badush on July 16 after her meeting with the families.

The families of the missing men have been demanding clarity on the case especially since they were told that the men were held hostage in Badush. However, speaking to The Hindu, a representative of the affected families said they were disappointed.

“We want the government of India to show seriousness in this case so that we can find out what really happened to the 39 men from our country,” said Gurpinder Kaur, a representative of the families.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iraq-not-sure-of-fate-of-39-indians/article19347089.ece?homepage=true

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