Duty-bound to inform Parliament of Mosul deaths first: Sushma Swaraj
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, during a press conference, expressed disappointment over the functioning in the Lok Sabha and said, "Those parties who were in the well were silent whereas Congress-led by Jyotiraditya Scindia created a ruckus."
"Congress' behaviour was completely against norms and parliamentary democracy. It is very disappointing to see the behaviour of the Congress party, especially the behavior of Jyotiraditya Scindia. Today I came with full details on a sad news, where 39 Indians died in Mosul."
She blamed Congress of playing politics over the death of 39 missing Indians.
On the allegation of hiding information, Swaraj said, "We had been saying that we neither have the evidence of them being alive nor the evidence of them being dead. We maintained this in 2014 and 2017. We did not keep anyone in the dark. We gave no false hopes to anyone."
"I have said it again and again, till I don't find concrete proof I won't stop trying. But when I find proof I will not wait for even 24 hours."
"Out of the 38 dead, 27 are from Punjab, four from Himachal Pradesh, two from West Bengal, five out of six from Bihar as one Raju Yadav from Bihar is still not identified," she said.
Many have raised questions on why the families of the deceased were not informed first. Responding to that Swaraj said that she was sticking to the tradition of making the announcement in Parliament as the House was in session.
Talking about the efforts taken to rescue the 39 Indians, Swaraj said, "We made tireless efforts and wanted to ensure that the DNAs match before revealing the grim news".
"The incident occured in June 2014 and today we are in 2018, we have made every possible effort to search for the missing Indians in Mosul. The PM also conducted a bilateral meeting to search for them ," Sushma Swaraj said.
Swaraj refuted the allegation that Harjit Masih, a man who returned from Mosul earlier, is being harassed ever since "he told the truth". She said, "This is completely baseless, no one has harassed Harjit Masih as alleged but he was being kept in protective custody."
"Harjit Masih is just an individual, he could claim 39 others are dead, but we are the government, we can't say this so easily. We have to be responsible", Swaraj added.
On compensation to the families of the victims, Swaraj said "It is premature to answer this question." She said that the external affairs ministry needed to talk to the state governments also and hand over the bodies first.
Swaraj also revealed that it is not known when the Indians were killed. "It could be six months back or two years back, in any case search for bodies would have begun only after the liberation of Mosul."