Search operations are underway to locate the 39 missing Indians who were taken as prisoners by the Islamic State in 2014 from Mosul city and there is high level coordination between Iraqi and Indian concerned authorities, Iraq Embassy to India said on Sunday. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj will hold extensive talks with her Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari tomorrow during which focus is expected to be on the issue.
Al-Jaafari's visit from July 24 to July 28 to India comes two weeks after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced liberation of Mosul, the second biggest city in his country, from the ISIS, which marked a major milestone for the Iraqi security forces.
India has already sent two high-level senior delegations to Iraq to follow up on the matter after Mosul, the last known location of the missing Indians, was liberated by the Iraqi Army from the clutches of ISIS. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh was sent to Iraq days after the Iraqi PM announced victory in the fight to liberate Mosul.
As liberation of Mosul brightened chances of information about the kidnapped Indians, Swaraj, in a meeting with their relatives last week, had said that they might be languishing in a jail in Badush in northwest of Mosul where fighting was going on.
However, a media report from Badush said on Saturday that the jail now was no more than an "abandoned structure that has been unoccupied for weeks, if not months". The government has not reacted to the report and has not provided any new information on the whereabouts of Indian nationals.
Swaraj had told the family members that an Iraqi official quoting intelligence sources had told Singh that the kidnapped Indians were deployed at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm before they were put in a jail in Badush. She had said al-Jaafari may bring fresh information about the kidnapped Indians, mostly from Punjab.
Al-Jafaari will travel to Mumbai on July 26 and will be back in Delhi on July 27.
Iraqi Ambassador to India Fakhri H Al-Issa had said on Friday that the Embassy has no information about the missing 39 Indians citizens.
"I don't want to say anything. I have no information. Sometimes no news is good news. They might be in Badush prison," Issa was quoted as saying by ANI.
Swaraj had said last year, including in Parliament, that the government had no proof of their killing other than the statement of a man, Harjit Masih, who had escaped from the captivity of IS.