External Affairs Minister Susshma Swaraj on Saturday said that the 39 Indians, kidnapped in June 2014 by Islamic State in Iraq, are still alive. She rejected reports that the Indians have been killed, stressing that the government was making efforts to trace them.
Addressing a press conference, the minister said that government was also working tirelessly to ensure safe release of Judith D'Souza, an aid worker and resident of Kolkata, who was abducted by suspected militants on June 9 in Kabul.
She added that Indian officials were also in touch with top authorities in Bangladesh after a priest of Rama Krishna Mission in Dhaka received death threat.
About 40-year-old Judith, Swaraj said "We are trying our best. The way we are going ahead, I think it will be resolved soon."
Replying to a question on the 39 Indians kidnapped in Iraq, Swaraj said she did not have "any proof of their killing than the statement of Harjit Masih."
Masih had ran away captivity of the Islamic State and he had claimed that all the 39 Indians had been killed. Swaraj questioned Masih's claim saying two heads of states in the Gulf region told her, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee that the Indians were alive.
"I am not giving false assurance. If I had confirmation that they were killed, then definitely, I would have sought apology rom their families the with folded hands and said they were killed. Their killing in such a situation in Mosul in Iraq would not have been blamed on me. When I say they are alive, I have taken on myself a major responsibility of tracing them....Nobody except Harjit Masih said they were killed. I will do injustice to them if I say they have been killed. It is my the responsibility to (find them) and I will not shy away from it," Swaraj said, adding "I do not abandon any Indian national."