Opposition prevents External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj from speaking on Mosul hostage crisis
New Delhi, July 26: The Opposition on Wednesday temporarily prevented Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj from giving a statement on the ongoing Indian hostage crisis in Mosul, Iraq. As she initially rose to give her statement on the prevailing situation in Mosul with regard to the 39 Indian hostages, the Opposition shouted her down to the point where Swaraj said, “I am ready to speak as the matter is serious, can’t give a statement in such uproar. They (opposition0 must not storm the well.”
The ruckus forced Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan to adjourn proceedings in the House for a little while.
Swaraj was due to give a statement on behalf of the government on the status of the missing Indians and to respond to Congress privilege notice against Sushma Swaraj. In 2014, 39 Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, were taken hostage by ISIS when it overran Iraq’s second largest city Mosul. The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were intercepted.
The Congress had earlier said it would submit a privilege motion against the minister in the Lok Sabha for “misleading the nation, parliament and families” on the kidnapped Indians. Alleging that Ms Swaraj had “lost all credibility”, Congress leader from Punjab Partap Singh Bajwa had said that Swaraj had said that these hostages were held in a dilapidated jail in Badush. Swaraj’s statement was also to reveal details of her talks with visiting Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.
There has been no word on them but the government has insisted that without information otherwise, the workers are still considered alive. Swaraj had told family members that an Iraqi official quoting intelligence sources had told Minister of State for External Affairs General (Retired) V.K. Singh that the kidnapped Indians were deployed at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm before they were put in a jail in Badush.
More than 10,000 Indians fled Iraq amid the upsurge in violence in 2014, including dozens of nurses who were held briefly by suspected ISIS terrorists in Tikrit and Mosul before being allowed to return home. (ANI)