Not sure if 39 missing Indians are alive: Iraqi foreign minister
24 Jul 2017 - 21:47
New Delhi, July 24 (IANS) Iraq's Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari on Monday said here that he was not sure whether the 39 Indians missing in the city of Mosul since 2014 are alive.
"I am not 100 per cent sure if the 39 Indians missing in Mosul are alive," al-Jaafari told the media. "We are trying our best (to trace them)."
Most of the 39 Indian construction workers who went missing in 2014 are from Punjab.
Al-Jaafari's comments came after Indian Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh visited Iraq after Iraqi forces aided by an international coalition liberated Mosul from the Islamic State on July 9.
Al-Jaafari also held talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj here on Monday.
Sushma Swaraj had earlier said that with the freeing of Mosul, the process to trace and rescue the missing Indians would be taken forward.
She said they had information that the Indians were in a jail in Badush, which lies in ruins now.
Singh was earlier sent to Erbil in Iraq to pursue the case of the missing Indians.
On July 12, Singh visited the Kurdish Peshmarga frontline in Mosul area to seek information about the Indians. He said some Islamic State held areas were still being cleared.
Sushma Swaraj has met the families of the 39 persons around a dozen times since they were abducted in June 2014 and assured them that the government was doing everything to locate them.
Iraqi forces liberated Mosul after 266 days of fierce battles, ending three years of Islamic State rule.