Officials told me to say they had not died: Harjit Masih on Indians killed in Iraq


New Delhi: Harjit Masih, the only survivor among the 40 India hostages by ISIS in Iraq’s Mosul, has claimed that he had been told by the officials in India to not say that his co-workers had died.

The 24-year-old was among the 40 construction workers who were kidnapped in 2014 while trying to escape an ISIS siege on June 11, 2014. After he returned to India, the government had kept him in “protective custody” as Foreign Minister had told parliament in November 2014.

Masih has all along claimed to have seen his compatriots being executed, a version the government did not accept.

“They (the officers who dealt with me in protective custody) lured me with the promise of a job and told me to say that the others were not dead. They told me to say I don’t know (about the others) and that I escaped,” Masih told NDTV.

Claiming that he did not remember the names of the officers who handled him, Masih said he was treated well while in protective custody during which he was kept in “Delhi, Gurgaon, Bangalore and Greater Noida”.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Parliament on Tuesday that all the 39 Indian hostages in Iraq’s Mosul were killed by ISIS, later said it had been established that Harjit Masih had lied.

The External Affairs Minister told reporters that Harjit had not survived a massacre as claimed in fact had managed to escape with a group of Bangladeshi colleagues under the name of “Ali”.

He was found by Indian officials at Erbil, the External Affairs Minister told reporters.

“We asked how he reached Erbil, but he kept saying ‘I don’t know…just get me out’,” the foreign minister said.

Sticking to his stand that all the Indian workers, including him, were fired at by terrorists, Harjit Masih told NDTV that he had used a different name as “they would have killed me if I had said my name is Harjit and I am an Indian.”

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