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Coming Soon: The Story of 39 Indians, ISIS, and Masih’s Escape

40 Indians were abducted by ISIS from Mosul, Iraq in June 2014. Only one returned to India – Harjit Masih

Updated
India
2 min read

40 Indians were abducted by ISIS from Mosul, Iraq in June 2014. Over a month later, only one returned to India – Harjit Masih – bringing with him a horrific story. He said that while he survived, his 39 fellow captives were killed. But, this isn’t what the Indian government or the families of the other 39 believe. They call Masih a liar and insist that the others are alive, and still held hostage by the ISIS.

In Kala Afghana, a village in the Gurdaspur district of Punjab, The Quint met with Masih and his family to find out more about the 25-year-old’s harrowing tale of escape from Iraq. As his family and social workers clamoured to tell his story, Masih quietly entered the tiny courtyard of his exposed brick dwelling and took a seat.

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Harjit Masih (L) and his mother, Shindar (R). (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/<b>The Quint</b>)
Harjit Masih (L) and his mother, Shindar (R). (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/The Quint)

Despite his reticence, the ease with which he handled the mic and spoke to the camera revealed that this young man has now become used to the media spotlight thrust upon him.

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Kanwaljeet, mother of Dharmender Kumar, one of the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS from Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/<b>The Quint</b>)
Kanwaljeet, mother of Dharmender Kumar, one of the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS from Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/The Quint)

But the hope in the hearts of the family members of the other 39 is a far cry from Masih’s own conviction about their death. The Indian government has also fuelled this hope. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has repeatedly asserted that the 39 abducted Indians who, along with Masih, were working as labourers at a construction site in Mosul, are alive in Iraq and has met with their families on a number of occasions.

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 Deepak, brother of Rakesh Kumar, one of the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS from Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/<b>The Quint)</b>
Deepak, brother of Rakesh Kumar, one of the 39 Indians abducted by the ISIS from Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: Siddharth Safaya/The Quint)

But even the families don’t seem to share the same story about government aid: While some claim to have received money and assistance from the Punjab and central governments, others insist they have seen no aid at all. Some also admit that, at times, they’re tempted to believe Masih’s version because, if nothing else, at least it would give them closure.

Watch this space for Masih’s stunning reconstruction of the dramatic events that led to his escape and the hope of the other families that their sons will return to India.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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