New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday demanded that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj should apologise to families of the 39 Indians, killed in Iraq, for “misleading” them and giving “false hopes”, and also demanded that the Narendra Modi government compensate them.
Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala cited Parliament papers to show senior Congress leader Ambika Soni had raised this issue with Sushma Swaraj in July 2017, asking her “what was her source for being 100 per cent sure that they were alive”, since “one day she (Sushma Swaraj) would say that all this is not known and they are all dead…”
“What Ambikaji had said in Parliament has come true today,” he said.
The party also accused the government of crossing all limits of “insensitivity, inhumanity, and being merciless” as well as politicising the issue and demanded each family should be given Rs 1 crore each.
Asking why Sushma Swaraj repeatedly misled the nation and the families and gave them “false hopes”, Surjewala said that the government had – seven times from 2014 till July 2017 – said these Indians were safe, alive and being provided basic amenities and food.
“The 39 Indians were kidnapped in June 2014. The entire world and the neighbouring countries had confirmed that they were not alive.
“When Indian media went to Mosul in July 2017 and reported that the Indians were not alive, Sushma Swaraj and Modi government rejected it. When an eyewitness came forward said that the ISIS have killed the Indians, they rejected it too.
“Sushma Swaraj had said when Iraqi Prime Minister comes to India, the government will confirm it from him, but didn’t do anything,” he added.
“Did the government think about the families even once, when they were desperately waiting for their dear ones for four years, he said, adding the minister was now blaming the Congress for politicising it, while praising her government and thanking the PM and her junior minister.
Surjewala also asked what was the need to give the statement in a hurry – even when the issue of no-confidence came up, asking if it was because the Iraq’s Martyrs Foundation was going to hold a press conference in the afternoon to reveal the truth about the killing of 39 Indians.
He said the minister should visit all the families and apologise for misleading them and announcing the news on television first.
Soni said: “We had given a call attention in 2014 in Parliament because we didn’t have any other option of getting information from the government. But, it refused to share any information.”
She said that every family should be compensated Rs 1 crore each and Sushma Swaraj should apologise to them publicly.