Sushma Swaraj was just ‘a phone call away’ for families of Indians killed in Iraq
The families say Swaraj was a constant source of support and helped them bring back the mortal remains of their loved ones which finally gave them closure.Updated: Aug 07, 2019 18:33 IST
“She spared no effort in finding our dear ones,” said Gurpinder Kaur on Wednesday, recalling how as external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj had worked painstakingly for four years to find the whereabouts of 39 Indian workers who were abducted and killed by ISIS militants in Iraq in 2014.
The families say Swaraj was a constant source of support and helped them bring back the mortal remains of their loved ones which finally gave them closure.
“Otherwise we would have waited our whole life to know about their fate,” Gurpinder Kaur, whose 26-year-old brother Manjinder Singh was among the victims, said while paying tributes to Swaraj.
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The veteran leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) breathed her last at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi on Tuesday night following a massive cardiac arrest.
“We are deeply shocked to hear about Sushmaji’s death,” said Davinder, whose elder brother Gobinder from Murar village in Kapurthala was among those killed in Iraq.
Gurpinder Kaur said Swaraj was “just a phone call away” and always courteous to them.
She had met Sushma Swaraj nine to 10 times in connection with finding the missing Indians in war-torn Iraq.
“She was easily accessible,” she said.
Swaraj, who was the minister of external affairs from 2014 to 2019, would come to swift rescue of distressed Indians abroad, many of whom would convey their problems through Twitter, with a leading international daily even calling her the ‘crusading Supermom of State’.
The 39 Indians, who had gone to Iraq to earn their livelihood, had gone missing in 2014. Several of them were from Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Jalandhar in Punjab.
After Indian authorities took up the matter with Iraqi authorities, it was learnt that they were abducted by a terror group ISIS from Mosul in June 2014 and taken to Badoosh where they were killed. Their mortal remains, which were found in a mass grave, were brought to India last year on a special aircraft.
“We could never forget what Sushmaji did. She put in her best efforts constantly for at least four years in tracing our relatives while taking up the matter with Iraq and then bringing the mortal remains to India,” Davinder told PTI on Wednesday.
“She was always polite and humble and never made us feel that she was a minister,” she said, adding “we will always be indebted to her and can never forget her”.
“Though they could not return alive, but she at least gave us result. Otherwise we would have waited our whole life to know about their fate,” Gurpinder Kaur said.
Her brother, who wanted to go to Dubai, was pushed into Iraq by fraudulent travel agents.
(The story has been published from a wire feed without any modifications to the text, only the headline has been changed)