New Delhi: VK Singh, the Minister of State for External Affairs, has said that all 39 Indians who were killed in Mosul went to Iraq illegally.
Singh arrived at Amritsar International airport on Monday along with the special aircraft carrying mortal remains of the deceased Indians. “We have been running a campaign through Ministry of External Affairs since 2014 to go abroad safe and trained. We have run a campaign to tell people not to go through illegal agents. One should not say so, but these 40 people had no record with any embassy, they went through an illegal agent. When you go through an illegal agent half the time we don’t know who went where,” he said.
The minister who was addressing the media lost his cool when asked if the kin of the deceased will be given jobs. “This is not a game of football. Both the state and central governments are sensitive governments. The External Affairs Ministry had asked the families for the details of their members who can be given jobs etc. We will review,” he said.
On demands of compensation, Singh made another insensitive remark. He said that giving compensation is not the same as distributing biscuits. “Yeh admiyon ki zindagi ka sawal hai, aa gayi baat samajh mein? Main abhi elaan kahan se karoon? Jeb mein koi pitaara thodi rakha hua hai (This is about the lives of several men. How can I make an announcement? I don’t have a magic wand),” he said.
He also said that the families, who have been alleging they were kept in dark about the status of their loved ones, should not indulge in politics and perform the last rites peacefully.
“My suggestion to the families is that we have got back your people. Do their last rites. In our system, irrespective of religion, nobody rests in peace till their last rites are done. Don’t get involved in unnecessary politics,” he said.
Last month, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told Parliament that 40 Indians were abducted by ISIS from Mosul in Iraq in June 2014, but one of them escaped posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh. The remaining 39 were taken to Badoosh and killed, she had said.
Of the Indian citizens killed by the terrorist organisation, 27 belonged to Punjab while four hailed from Himachal Pradesh. Arrangements for ambulances and other vehicles for ferrying the coffins to the native places have been made by the respective district administration with all necessary assistance extended by the authorities in Amritsar.
Eight victims belonged to twin districts of Amritsar and adjoining Tarn Taran.
Among the 39 Indians, most were from different places in Punjab like Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Jalandhar.