"We don't know if they are dead or alive", said Al Jafari while interacting with journalists. "ISIS had seized control of Badush jail". This information was made available by MoS V K Singh who travelled to both Erbil and Baghdad after news broke out that Mosul had been freed from terror group IS.
Prem Singh Chandumajra, an MP of the BJP's ally Shiromani Akali Dal, too raised the issue in Lok Sabha and demanded that External Affairs Minister should tell the truth about Indians kidnapped in Iraq. "It may or may not have been". The Indian government has so far maintained that there was no direct proof that they had been killed, as alleged by the sole survivor.
"Not sure 100 per cent whether they are alive or not".
He added that his government is doing its best to find the missing 39 Indians and that they are in constant touch with the Indian government.
Relatives in the northern Indian city of Amritsar said they received phone calls from some of the workers five days after Mosul was captured saying that they were in trouble and needed help. "We don't know, but we'll do our best".
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However, a media report from the region on July 22 claimed that the jail was abandoned several weeks ago. The issue was raised by Swaraj during extensive talks with al-Jaafari, who began a five-day India visit today, almost two weeks after Mosul's liberation by Iraqi forces.
The bilateral trade between the two amounted to $13 billion in 2016-17. Iraq has been one of the major suppliers of crude oil to India.
Most of the 39 Indian construction workers who went missing in 2014 are from Punjab.
India had requested Iraq to locate the 39 missing Indians, mostly from Punjab, after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS.
However, during the 5-day visit in India, Iraq Foreign Minister will attend a program in Mumbai.
Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh had visited Iraq this year to coordinate and facilitate the return of the Indians stuck in Iraq.