New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said on Sunday that her “only regret” in her year in office has been the failure so far to bring back the 39 abducted Indians from Iraq, which she hoped to do soon.
“My only regret is that while we have evacuated thousands of our nationals from Iraq, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, but the 39 Indians remain in Iraq. I feel my wait will end very soon and we will be successful in bringing them back,” she said at a press conference.
To a question on the fate of the 39 Indians labourers who were abducted by the Islamic State militants a year ago in Mosul, Sushma Swaraj said she has been told by “eight sources” that the men are still alive.
“I have eight sources who say they are alive.. not oral messages but ‘likhit sandesh’ (written messages),” she said, adding that she has shared them with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and her ministerial colleagues Arun Jaitley and Harsimrat Kaur Badal.
She also discounted the version of one of the men who escaped, Harjit Masih, who has claimed that the men were shot dead.
Sushma Swaraj said she treats the search for the men not just as a responsibility but a mission. She said she has spoken to the Middle East countries on the issue more than once.
“I will continue the search and not believe in what that person has said,” she said, referring to Masih.
Giving a break-up of the Indians evacuated from different countries, Sushma Swaraj said that the government had brought back 1,000 students from Ukraine when the crisis unfolded, 7,000 Indians from Iraq when the Islamic State began running over swathes of the country and 4,500 Indians as well as foreign nationals from Yemen earlier this year.
The deal is getting into controversies because of the allegations de by the opposition, especially Congress
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in April 2015 made the announcement that India will buy 36 French-manufactured Rafale fighter jets from Dassault, a French aircraft builder and integrator. This came to be known as Rafale Deal.
The Rafale deal of 36 Rafale aircrafts between India and France was called a “win-win partnership” for both the countries.
But recently it has come under attack of the Opposition, mainly the Indian National Congress, which has alleged that there have been irregularities in this deal and its proceedings. However, the government has denied and rejected all the charges.
The Rafale Deal is nothing new and was also signed during the time of UPA government. The first time it came to light was during the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee where the original proposal was to buy 126 fighter jets.
After tests and negotiations in 2012, Rafale was considered L-1 bidder and negotiations started which only came to a conclusion as the Rafale Deal in 2015 under Prime Minister Modi’s government.
Now the UPA alleging irregularities on NDA government doesn’t seem fair to many because no deal took place under their government. The transfer of technology was a primary issue of concern between the two sides. Dassault Aviation also tried to deny to take the responsibility of quality control of the production of 108 aircraft in India. The Dassault provided for 3 crore man-hours for production of the Rafale jets in India, HAL’s estimate was approximately 3 times higher which resulted in an escalation of costs in the manifold.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to France in 2015 helped bring this deal to a final conclusion. The government-to-government deal of 36 jets was to completed as soon as possible.
On costs of the Rafale Deal, NDA government has said that it got better terms than those quoted in the original bid under the UPA government. The total savings are reported to be of more than 1600 million Euros. However, the cost breakdown of Rafale Deal in the original bid under UPA government and in the 36 aircraft in the NDA’s government-to-government deal is not available for the public domain.
Under the current agreement, the Rafale Deals support the ‘Make In India’ initiative of the Indian Government through the IGA’s Article 12. It states that France will facilitate the implementation of ‘Make In India’. These critical design technologies were already discussed between the two governments in previous meetings. The present Rafale Deal is signed between two sovereign governments and there is no private individual, firm or entity involved in the process from the side of India. The procurement process also does not include any private company or firm from India.