Thirty-six families of those abducted Indian men came to meet the minister Friday. The minister is understood to have told the distraught families that the men are known to be alive, but there is no concrete proof of it.
Malkit Singh, whose brother Paramjeet Singh is among the abducted, said they had asked the minister about the whereabouts of Harjeet Masih, one of the workers who escaped from the clutches of IS. Harjeet had said the men have been killed. "We demanded to meet Harjeet Masih, but she said we cannot meet him. We wanted to know if he really has bullet injuries, she refused to tell us," he said. "Harjeet Masih is supposed to be in government custody. Then why don't they know about him," another man asked. "They said they will not allow us to meet him. How can they do this?" he added. Harjeet Masih claimed that he and the other Indians were abducted, along with Bangladeshis, from Mosul on June 15 and taken towards Erbil, in Iraq. The IS militants separated the Bangladeshis and Indians on the basis of religion and set the Bangladeshis free. He claimed that the Indians were taken to an isolated spot and shot dead.
Harjeet claimed he was also hit by bullets but they only scraped his skin and he pretended to be dead. He escaped when the militants had left. Malkit Singh said, "The minister said she has 'yakeen' or belief that the men are alive but she can't give us assurance." "They are repeating their old empty assurances, we are depending on the government, but it is letting us down," said Pushpa, whose son Sandeep, 37, is among the abducted.
Sushma Swaraj Friday acknowledged the government "does not have concrete proof" of the men being alive or dead and is continuing to search for them based on "six indirect sources". Speaking in the Rajya Sabha and the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj termed as "hearsay" the quotes attributed to Harjeet Massih, one of the workers who escaped from the clutches of IS and claimed the men have been killed. "I have said repeatedly that I do not have concrete proof of them being alive, but I do not have concrete proof of their being dead too," she said.