Search for the 39 missing Indian labourers who were kidnapped in Mosul three years ago is expected to gather momentum with the visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who arrives here on Monday on a five-day visit.
The visit of al-Jaafari, who is to hold talks with his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj here, comes days after the Indian Minister announced that the 39 Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, are believed to be in a jail in Mosul, that was freed from the Islamic State earlier this month.
Sushma Swaraj had said that with the freeing of Mosul on July 9 from the Islamic State militants the process to trace and rescue the missing Indians would be taken forward. She said they had information that the Indians were in a jail in Badush. Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh was sent to Erbil in Iraq to pursue the matter.
On July 12, Singh visited the Peshmarga frontline in Mosul area to seek information on the Indians. He said the Peshmerga were still clearing the ISIS held areas. He also met the Iraqi Foreign Minister.
However, a report in Hindustan Times said that the jail in Badush was in ruins and there was no sign of the Indians.
Sushma Swaraj has met the families of the 39 persons around a dozen times since they were abducted in June 2014 and assured them that the government is doing everything to locate them. She has maintained that they have received inputs from sources over the months of the 39 men being alive.
Besides the missing Indians, the Iraqi Minister and Sushma Swaraj are to discuss the entire gamut of bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.
He is also to meet Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and later call on Vice President Hamid Ansari.
He will leave for Mumbai on Wednesday.
The bilateral trade between the two amounted to $13 billion in 2016-17. Iraq also contributes significantly to India’s energy security and is the second-largest supplier of crude oil to India (over 37 MMT during 2016-17).
Thousands of Indians visit Iraq annually for pilgrimage to the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala.