Mosul, July 17: As soon as Mosul was liberated, Minister of State for External Affairs V. K. Singh visited Iraq on 11th July 2017 on an ultimate mission to bring all 39 Indian hostages safely back to the country. Though VK Singh had to return back without any information, Iraqi forces committed him to find all the Indians as soon as possible.
Notably, searching for the missing Indians General VK Singh visited the frontline areas of Mosul and met Peshmerga fighters who are currently fighting with ISIS in the areas, reviewed the search operations and gathered the detailed information. Peshmerga fighters also briefed General VK Singh about the areas, conditions and search operations.
Peshmerga fighters further vowed to search all the Indians stranded in Iraq while General VK Singh thanked Iraqi army for their efforts. Later, General VK Singh also met with the Iraqi Foreign Minister Dr. Ibrahim Al Jaafari and urged him to continue with the efforts of searching Indians.
However, as General VK Singh returned to the country without any information of the stranded Indians, family members questioned about the visits. Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had a meeting with the family members of stranded Indians and briefed them about the current situations.
In the meeting, Minister Swaraj said an authoritative official quoting intelligence source told VK Singh the Indians were deployed at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm. They were then taken to a jail in Badush in West Mosul, where fighting between the ISIS and Iraqi forces is carrying on.
Swaraj further stated she had spoken to foreign ministers of all the countries in the region which could help India in locating the men. The external affairs minister had written a letter to her Iraqi counterpart and it was handed over to him in Baghdad by Singh. She said if required, Singh would again travel to Iraq.
Prior to General VK Singh’s visit to Iraq, the Indian government activated various channels for locating those Indians. Iraqi authorities also conveyed that all cooperation would be extended in this regard and instructions have been issued by them to all relevant Iraqi agencies for the same. The Ambassador of India to Iraq and the Consulate General in Erbil were also instructed to continue the efforts to locate the 39 trapped Indians on top priority.
Earlier, External Affairs Ministry confirmed that 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, had been held hostage by the fighters aligned to the ISIS in Mosul since 2014 and are alive. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also assured Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, who had sought her intervention, that the ministry was making possible efforts to locate the Indians.
Thousands of Twitteratis lauded and appreciated General VK Singh’s photograph with Peshmerga fighters while reviewing the search operations.