Mosul survivor asks why govt didn’t accept earlier that all 39 Indians were dead
“I had been saying for past three years that all 39 Indians had been killed by ISIS,” [in front of me], Masih told reporters. “I am wondering why government was not accepting what I had said earlier”
"I had spoken the truth," said survivor Harjit Masih.
Masih, a resident of a village in Gurdaspur district, Punjab, is the lone Indian who managed to escape from the Islamic State in Iraq's Mosul in 2014. On Tuesday, after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament that the bodies of the 39 Indians were spotted using deep penetration radar, exhumed from a mass grave and their identities confirmed by DNA tests, Masih reiterated that all the 39 Indians who were seized were killed long ago.
He said he wondered why the government didn't believe him all these years. "I had been saying for the past three years that all 39 Indians had been killed by ISIS militants," Masih, told reporters. He said they all were killed in front of his eyes. "I am wondering why the government was not accepting what I had said earlier."
However, Sushma Swaraj dismissed his claims during her statement in the Rajya Sabha. "He was not willing to tell me how he escaped," she said.
Narrating the incident, Masih, 28, said the Indians were kidnapped by the militants and were kept hostage. After some days, the militants indiscriminately fired at them. "I was fortunate to manage to escape from the clutches of the militants despite getting a bullet injury," he said.
The 39 who went missing in Iraq were all from poor families, mostly from rural areas of Punjab. Their families were asked in October last year to provide their DNA samples.
Sushma Swaraj had earlier assured the families, who met her several times, that all efforts were being made to trace the missing men. But the minister maintained all these years that there was no information confirming that the Indians were dead.
However, several commentators on Twitter expressed concern after Masih’s statement, including former MoS for External Affairs, Shashi Tharoor. Former J&K CM Omar Abdullah disapproved of families of the victims hearing the dreaded news via television after years-long wait.
With IANS inputs.