Deaths in Iraq: Govt callousness exposed

It only now becomes plain that the government had not a shred of evidence to even hint that the missing workers were alive.

We have to bear the tragic news of 39 breadwinners for their families dying at the hands of ISIS in war-torn Iraq in circumstances in which the government’s role appears cavalier. These were men who worked in skilled trades in a foreign land, and were amongst those who have constructed the story of India’s external remittances on which the country has depended in times of dire economic need.

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, announcing the tragic news in Parliament on Tuesday, was being too clever by half in trying to shield herself and her government from responsibility when she noted that she could not come with the news of death until there was confirmation. Such an observation is unexceptionable in dealing with forensics, but the minister, and her ministry’s spokesman, on six different occasions in the past three and a half years have said without qualification that the Indians captured were alive. There was no scope for ambiguity in the official statements. It only now becomes plain that the government had not a shred of evidence to even hint that the missing workers were alive.

While the minister and her team were keen to be doubly sure before announcing the news of death, they had no such qualms in declaring that our workers were alive. It would have been both truthful and humane to officially maintain from the start that the fate of the men taken captive was unknown and a matter of concern, and that it was impossible to know, although every effort was being made to ascertain the facts and arrange for every help to ensure that the missing workers be released if they were being held captive.

Instead, the government kept up the facade of tireless work on behalf of our missing men, who were made out to be alive. In one official statement, the government went to the extent of asserting that the captured workers were being fed.

It is now evident, as in so many other facets of governance, that this is a ruling establishment that likes to run on propaganda which has little correspondence with the facts on the ground. The idea is to make a splash — to create the false impression of continual success when facts speak otherwise. But in this case, the external affairs minister may also be guilty of breaching the privilege of Parliament by putting out a string of lies and half-truths.

This also betrays an attitude of insensitivity toward the families of the missing workers who were constantly receiving false assurances. It is only when the Mosul area — where our workers had been captured — was liberated from ISIS, and the government did not get any communication from the missing men, that it realised that the game was up.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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