Ambika Soni slams Sushma Swaraj on plight of Indians in Iraq jails

Last Updated: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 17:59

New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Ambika Soni today accused External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj of "deliberately keeping out" facts regarding six Indians from Punjab languishing in Iraq jails.

Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, she said Swaraj, who also looks after the Overseas Indian Affairs Ministry, had said in reply to a question that 5,986 Indians are reported to be lodged in jails abroad. Soni said during Zero Hour that either a glaring omission was made or facts about people languishing in Iraq jails were deliberately kept out.

"Unfortunately, the name of Iraq has not been mentioned. The Minister for External Affairs did not mention that six Indians are languishing in jails in Iraq for last two and half years," she said, wondering why "no contact" was made with them.

She alleged that while Swaraj assured that all Indians languishing in captivity Iraq are safe, the Indian embassy in Iraq does not know about these six people. "Why this was deliberately kept out in the reply," she asked.

Soni said while Swaraj had stated in Parliament that all the 41 Indians languishing in captivity in Iraq were safe and alive, a newspaper has reported to the contrary and wondered why the government did not contradict it.

Drawing the attention of the House towards the plight of a group of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees on way to Australia stranded in the sea, D Raja (CPI) said India should act in a humanitarian manner and provide shelter to them.

"What is the policy of the new government towards Sri Lankan Tamils. Some of our leaders justified the Sri Lankan government`s genocide and war crimes against Tamilians there. It is atrocious. It questions sincerity of the government," Raja said, attacking BJP leader Subramanian Swamy without naming him.

Raja said while 2,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are living in various parts of the country, 200 of them left for Australia but the government there did not allow them to enter. As a result, they are stranded in the sea. Raja urged the central government to act into the matter.

Avtar Singh Karimpuri (BSP) raised the issue of a Sikh youth Jaswinder Singh not being allowed to enter a school to take his pre-medical test because he was carrying a `kirpan` and demanded action against school authorities.

He also raised the issue of a teacher in Rajasthan Manvinder Singh not being allowed to enter a convocation ceremony in a college there because he too was carrying a `kirpan`.

"These things hurt the sentiments of religious minorities. Strict possible legal action should be taken against the offenders," Karimpuri said.

Deputy Chairman P J Kurien said government should take note of it as this is a "violation of fundamental right". Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said government will take note of it.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 17:59

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