Chandigarh, July 10 (IANS) External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Monday assured Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that her ministry was making all-out efforts to trace and facilitate the return of the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, who had been held hostage in Mosul since 2014.
Reacting to reports that the families of the Indian hostages were trying to locate their kin after Iraqi forces freed Mosul from the clutches of ISIS, Amarinder sought her active intervention in the matter. He said the families of the hostages were keenly awaiting the return of their kin.
“Assuring of all possible efforts by her ministry to bring back the Indians, who were construction workers taken into custody in 2014, Sushma said General V.K. Singh had been sent to Iraq to coordinate with the Iraqi government to facilitate the return of the Indians stuck there. She said she had also directed the Indian embassy to extend all help to the stranded Indians,” a spokesperson of the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) disclosed here.
Air India officials at the airports had also been instructed to facilitate their return, said Sushma, adding that her ministry had activated all available sources to trace the missing Indians, who were last heard of hiding in a church in Mosul, the spokesperson added.
While Sushma has held several meetings with the families of the hostages since the abduction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also been raising the issues with other countries in the Middle East region.
The Chief Minister said he was hopeful the 39 Indians would be back home soon, now that Mosul was no longer in the control of ISIS.
A man from Punjab, Harjit Masih, who escaped from the clutches of the terror organization in June 2014 had claimed that the 39 Indian nationals had been killed.
However, the External Affairs Ministry had maintained that it had no information confirming that the Indians were dead.
The Indian nationals were taken hostage by the IS on June 11, 2014, in northern Iraq’s Mosul town.