Raising the issue of 39 missing Indians in Iraq with the House, Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said that it would be a sin declaring them dead without any proof. Swaraj further added that it is government’s duty to keep looking for the people as no evidence suggesting their death has surfaced.

Rejecting the opposition’s claim that she was trying to disturb the House, Sushma said, “Declaring anyone dead without proof is a sin and I won’t commit a sin.”

She further claimed that no evidence — dead bodies, bloodstains, and also no ISIS videos — have surfaced which could prove their death.

Addressing the issue of missing Indians in Iraq, Swaraj said, “We can’t even take them from the category of ‘missing’ to ‘believed to be dead’. I will not take this crime on my head.”

“People who are convinced that they are dead and I am lying, they are free to tell their families that they are dead. But if anyone turns up alive, then it is their responsibility,” she claimed.

Stating that the government is still looking out for the missing Indians, Sushma Swaraj said, “Why should I believe Harjit Masih’s claims that the 39 Indians are dead? It is a crime to do this without proper proof.”

Earlier on Monday, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari, while addressing the reporters said, “We don’t know whether they are dead or alive. We are equally concerned. We’re not sure 100% they’re alive or not, we don’t know, we are going to do our best.”

In 2014, a group of labourers — mostly from Punjab — were held hostage by the Islamic Sate militants when it overran Iraq’s second largest city Mosul. However, the workers were intercepted when they were trying to escape the place.