Union foreign minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that 39 Indians stranded in Mosul (Iraq) were killed by ISIS. The minister said this in her statement in the Rajya Sabha. Swaraj also said that the stranded Indians were kidnapped and most of them were from Punjab. The Union minister said that the bodies of the deceased were exhumed and DNA samples sent for forensic test. The 39 Indians were kidnapped by ISIS in Mosul in 2014. Until October last year, both India and Iraq had contended that the 39 people were alive. The relatives of the 39 Indians were made to undergo DNA test last year.
Swaraj told Parliament that MoS EAM, General VK Singh, will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains. “General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed in Iraq. The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata,” Swaraj said.
She further said that mortal remains of deceased were kept in Baghdad. The government had sent DNA samples of relatives for the purpose of verification of bodies. Along with the Central, four state governments – Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar – were also involved in the process. Deep penetration radar confirmed that all Indians were dead after all bodies were exhumed, Swaraj said.
Reacting to Swaraj’s statement, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh took to Twitter and offered his condolences. “Shattered at the heart-wrenching news from Sushma Swaraj that the 39 Indians missing in Iraq, most of whom were Punjabis, are dead,” Singh said. “My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by ISIS in 2014. Prayers with all of them,” he added.
Taking to Twitter, Congress MP Sashi Tharoor targeted the government for giving false hope to the nation. “Sad news of the confirmation of the deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq. Thoughts & prayers are w/their families. But why did the Govt give false hope to the nation for three and a half years that the people were still alive? That was disappointing behaviour. (sic)” Tharoor said.
Check Amarinder Singh’s Tweet:
Shattered at the heart-wrenching news from @SushmaSwaraj that the 39 Indians missing in Iraq, most of whom were Punjabis, are dead. My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by ISIS in 2014. Prayers with all of them.
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) March 20, 2018
Amid reports of the death of the 39 Indians, Swaraj had told Parliament in July 2017 that she would not declare that the 39 Indians were dead without concrete proof or evidence. “It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin,” Swaraj had said in her statement in the Lok Sabha.
She added that the government wouldcontinue its efforts to trace the Indians. She had told the Parliament that file will not close till there is proof that the 39 Indians are dead. Earlier, Opposition had said that Swaraj misled the Parliament. Earlier, New Delhi had sought Iraq’s help in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from IS. The 39 people, most of whom hailed from Punjab, were working as laborers near Mosul, when they were kidnapped during their evacuation.