Masih is lying, says Sushma on lone survivor's escape story

Masih is lying, says Sushma on lone survivor's escape story

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday accused "eyewitness" Harjit Masih of making a "cock-and-bull" story on the execution of the 39 Indians construction workers in Iraq.

"The account given by Masih was not true. It was a cock-and-bull story," Sushma said in the Rajya Sabha flagging several loopholes in the narrative.

Nearly four years after they were captured by the IS, the minister confirmed that 39 Indians were dead.

Masih was one of the 40 Indian construction workers, captured by the IS (formerly ISIS) at the Iraqi town of Mosul. Later he managed to flee and reached Erbil where he was found by Indian officials.

After returning to India, the Punjabi migrant claimed he was an eyewitness to the massacre by the terror outfit.

Sushma rubbished the account, claiming Masih created a cock-and-bull story when he claimed he saw 39 others were gunned down and he received shots in the leg. "He kept on telling me that he didn't know how he reached Erbil. I asked him three-four times and every time he said he didn't know and requested me to take him out," she said.

The minister said Masih escaped along with a group of Bangladeshi using a fake name, Ali.

"He is just an individual, he could claim 39 others are dead, but we are the government, we can't say this so easily. We have to be responsible," Sushma said.

Asked about Masih's claim that he was being harassed by government officials for contradicting the government claims, the minister said. "These are baseless allegations. He was kept in protected custody. How can he be harassed in protected custody."

Masih had claimed that four days after the kidnapping, the Indians were asked to kneel down by the terrorists near a railway track and everyone was shot. He said he was wounded in the foot but survived by pretending to be dead until the terrorists left.