The government has informed families of 39 Indians, believed to have been abducted by Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq in 2014, that they may be in Mosul in the north of the country, a family member said.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the families that the government had received information that some Indian men were in Mosul, from where the 39 men had gone missing three years ago.
The minister told the family in a meeting that lasted 45 minutes the Indians seen in Mosul were in all likelihood the missing men. The families said they had last heard from the men on June 14, 2014, when they all called home to say they were being taken away by IS fighters.
Now that Mosul, earlier in the control of the IS, had been liberated, the Indian government discussed the issue of the stranded men with the Iraqi government, the family quoted Swaraj as saying.
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“The Indian government has taken the matter up with the Iraqi government, which has assured it that once things become normal, they will be sent back,” Gurpinder Kaur, sister of one of the missing men, Manjinder Singh, told PTI.
Kaur, a resident of Bhoewal village in Amritsar district, said this was the families’ 11th meeting with the minister since the men’s disappearance. “Earlier, the government was silent on the issue. But now Swaraj has assured us that the missing people have been traced,” she said.
The families asked the minister what the government was doing to bring them back. “She told us that Iraqi forces had recaptured 90 per cent of the area and the Indian men were in the area that was yet to be freed from IS militants,” Gurpinder said.
Amritsar’s Seema Devi, whose husband Sonu Masih is among the missing men, said they were elated when they heard that the men were safe.