Search operations to locate 39 missing Indians in Iraq underway: Indian govt
The missing Indians are allegedly being held captive by the Islamic State. (Representative image) Photograph: (AFP)
The Indian government said on Sunday that all efforts were being made to trace the 39 Indians who went missing in Iraq and were allegedly being held captive by the Islamic State in Mosul since 2014.
India's Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said the government would not abandon its citizens and that he had information from Iraq which had been shared with the families of the missing Indians as well as the media.
"We have always said that till the time we don't get proof, the government cannot abandon its citizens. That is the bottom line," said the former Army chief who visited Iraq last week to locate the missing Indians.
Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan also reiterated that efforts were on to trace the 39 Indians.
"As Petroleum Minister, I know the intricacies of Iraq. The Central Government is trying its best to rescue Indian citizens. The government is very keen and is trying its best. The family should keep patience," Dharmendra Pradhan said.
"I was in Istanbul the day Mosul got free from the ISIS. There is a very challenging situation," he added.
Earlier in the day, Iraq's Embassy in India said search operations were underway to locate the 39 missing Indians, and assuring that there was a high-level coordination between concerned Iraqi and Indian authorities in the efforts to locate them.
BJP president Amit Shah had also defended External Affairs Minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj and said that the search operation was underway and the government was not misleading the nation.