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External affairs minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday cited protocol to explain why she informed Parliament about the killings of 39 Indian citizens in Iraq + before letting their families know.
“Some kin of the victims have questioned as to why they were not told about the deaths before the Parliament. It is parliamentary procedure to first inform the House, so it was my duty,” said Swaraj, hours after she confirmed the deaths in the Rajya Sabha.
Ruckus ensued in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday as the Opposition raised slogans just as External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was about to deliver a statement on the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul. While the Union Minister said all the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS terror outfit in Mosul in Iraq three years ago are dead and their bodies have been recovered, the house was adjourned for the day soon after amid slogan shouting by members from various parties. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan termed the scenes as unfortunate.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said she never kept the families of 39 missing Indians in the dark about their fate neither did she gave them any false hope.
The minister’s reaction came after the families of the 39 Indians abducted by ISIS from Mosul in Iraq four years ago said they got the news of their death through media after Swaraj made a statement in the Parliament today.
“In all my statements in and outside the Parliament, I always said that I did not have the proof that they were alive or dead. I never kept anyone in dark,” Swaraj said.
Unable to make an elaborate statement on the death of Indians in Iraq, Swaraj addressed a press conference today slamming the Congress for disrupting her speech and termed it as ‘cheap politics’. “Today Congress indulged in very low level of politics, probably Congress president thought how did no uproar happened in Rajya Sabha and decided to ask Scindia ji to lead protests in Lok Sabha. Playing politics on deaths,” said Swaraj.
We maintained this in 2014 and 2017, she said.
“Some kin of the victims have questioned as to why they were not told about the deaths before the parliament. It is a parliamentary convention to first inform the house if the Parliament is in session. It was my duty to make a statement in the Parliament first,” she told reporters at a press briefing in the capital.
39 Indian abducted by ISIS in Iraq have died: EAM Sushma Swaraj in Rajya Sabha
She said the announcement was made only after their death was confirmed through DNA testing.
When asked why the government did not rely on the statement made by Harjit Masih, who escaped from the clutches of the ISIS, the minister said it is a job of a responsible government to declare something only after there is conclusive evidence.
“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,” she said.
Sushma said out of 39 Indians, the identity of one person is yet to be established.
Out of 38 individuals who have been confirmed dead, 27 are from Punjab, 4 from Himachal Pradesh, 2 from West Bengal and 5 are from Bihar. One person who remains unidentified is also from Bihar.
She said their bodies will be soon brought back and handed over to the families.
“I hope after the bodies are handed over and last rites are performed, it will bring closure to their families,” she said.
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