New Delhi: The Rahul Gandhi-led Congress will now give a privilege notice against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj for misleading the nation regarding the fate of 39 Indians who went missing in Iraq and later killed by global terrorist outfit ISIS.
Accusing Swaraj of lying in the case of 39 missing Indians, senior Congress leader Ambika Soni said that her party will push a privilege notice against Swaraj in both houses of Parliament on Friday.
The Congress party has launched a major offensive against the Narendra Modi government over the issue ever since EAM Swaraj announced in Rajya Sabha that all 39 Indians who were missing in Iraq's Mosul city since 2014 were dead.
She had told the lawmakers in the Upper House that all 39 Indian workers were killed by the IS.
The Congress alleged that the families of the deceased had been ‘misled’ by the government for years, by keeping them hopeful on the issue.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, in a press briefing, said that Swaraj has been misleading the Parliament and the families of the victims.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi also expressed shock over the news of the confirmed death of the 39 Indians who were held captive by the Islamic State in 2014.
I’m shocked to hear that 39 Indians who were in captivity since 2014, in Iraq, are now confirmed dead.
My deepest condolences to the families of those who have lived in hope, that their loved ones will return unharmed. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you today.
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) March 20, 2018
The attack on the Modi government began soon after Swaraj said, ''Out of the 40, who were kidnapped, one person managed to escape, while others were confirmed dead after DNA samples of their relatives matched from the bodies exhumed from a mound. ''
Shattered at the heart-wrenching news from @SushmaSwaraj that the 39 Indians missing in Iraq, most of whom were Punjabis, are dead. My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by ISIS in 2014. Prayers with all of them.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) March 20, 2018
Speaking in the Upper House, Swaraj said, ''Mortal remains were sent to Baghdad. For verification of bodies, the DNA samples of their relatives were sent there and four state governments - Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar - were involved in this.''
''We got information that the DNA samples of 38 people have matched and DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 percent,'' Sushma told lawmakers in the Rajya Sabha.
''I would like to confirm with a heavy heart that they have been killed by the Islamic State militia,'' she said.
The EAM further informed that Union Minister and former Army chief General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the 39 Indians killed in Iraq.
''The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata, '' Swaraj informed.
Swaraj had earlier refused to declare them dead without credible proof, saying this would be amount to "committing a sin".
"Declaring anyone dead without proof is a sin and I won't commit a sin," Swaraj had said in the Lok Sabha, responding to allegations that she was "misleading the house" on whether the Indians were alive.
Sushma Swaraj had then asserted that it was the government's duty to keep looking for the Indians, given that so far, "there are no bodies, no bloodstains, no list, no ISIS videos."
A group of Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, Bihar and Himachal, was taken hostage by ISIS when it overran Iraq's second largest city Mosul in 2014.
The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were intercepted and taken hostage by the ISIS fighters.
One of the captured Indians, Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur, had managed to escape and claimed to have witnessed the massacre of the others.
The Government of India (GoI) rejected his claim and maintained that all efforts were on to find the missing Indians and, without any credible information, the workers would be considered alive.
The GoI had even asked Iraq for help in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS.
The government in Iraq too expressed its inability to confirm if Indians taken hostage by the ISIS in Mosul three years ago were alive or dead.
(With Agency inputs)