Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj has said that there is no evidence to substantiate the claim that 39 Indians missing in Mosul, Iraq, have died. "So we are continuing with the search operation", she told the House.
Meanwhile, a Punjab government official said that they were in touch with the external affairs ministry "to ensure that all efforts are made to trace the missing Indians and to get them back home safely".
On July 16, however, Sushma - based on information gathered by her junior minister General VK Singh during his visit to Mosul after its recent "liberation" from the Islamic State - had stated that the abducted Indians may be lodged in Badush jail, located in northwest Mosul.
A full three years have passed since 39 Indian construction workers, majority from Punjab, were abducted by the Islamic State terror organisation from their job site in Mosul, Iraq. "We have talked to all countries that could have helped in tracing those missing Indians", she said.
"We don't have any proof of them being alive".
Family members of 39 Indians who were abducted in Mosul three years ago said that they have lost trust in the government following its constant reneging on statements in regard to retrieving the 39 Indians from the war-torn city in Iraq which was recently freed from the clutches of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
"It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence". We are equally concerned. "He told me that in Iraq it is said that wait is worse than death", Swaraj said.
"The whereabouts of 39 Indians taken hostage in Iraq during June 2014 are still not known", he said.
The external affairs minister cited an example of the Congress government declaring a soldier martyr in 1971 war and after 45 years, it was found that he was in a jail in Pakistan.
Further adding she siad, "One Harjeet Massi informed the government that 40 Indians have been captured by the Islamic State". "Why should I believe Harjit Masih's claims?" As Ms. Swaraj mentioned in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, no credible evidence such as blood spillage, bodies or DNA samples to prove that the Indians are indeed dead.
"It is very easy for me to declare them dead".