With 41 Indians languishing in captivity in Iraq for the last 45 days, government today suggested that Parliament should issue an appeal to the captors to release them as a "Ramzan gift" before Eid next week.
While making the suggestion in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj appeared to send out a message to the Islamist militants holding the hostages by reminding that India had refused to send armed forces to Iraq when the Americans went there over a decade back.
"The holy period of Ramzan is on. The House should appeal to those who have kept these 41 Indians captive to release them before Eid as a special Ramzan gift," she said while replying to a calling attention motion on the situation in Iraq and the Indians stranded there due to the ongoing conflict.
India has had "very good historical relations" with Iraq and "it must be recalled that several years ago, it was this House that had passed a resolution and we did not send our armed forces to Iraq," Swaraj said. However, the House did not adopt a resolution as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan took up the next item on the agenda immediately after Swaraj ended her reply to the motion raised by Congress member K C Venugopal, RSP's N K Premachandran and AAP's Dharam Vira Gandhi.
Of the 41 held captive, 31 belong to Punjab, four each to Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh and two to West Bengal, Swaraj said. "While we don't have any direct contact with them, but according to several sources, we have got to know they are safe and alive, they are being given food," Swaraj said.