Friday, 20 April, 2018

India confirms deaths of 39 workers abducted by IS in Iraq

39 Indians killed in Iraq: 'It was my duty to inform Parliament before families,' says Sushma Swaraj PM Narendra Modi condoles death of 39 Indians killed by ISIS in Iraq
Delores Daniels | 21 March, 2018, 08:02

Thanking the Iraqi government, Sushma said that the dead bodies were discovered with the help of a deep penetration radar, and thereafter they were exhumed and their DNA samples were matched with those of their respective family members.

Dismissing complaints that the government had given the families false hope, she said, "I had told the House continuously for three years that until I get proof of their death, I will not close any file".

"With full proof I can say these 39 are dead", Swaraj informed the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will be flying to Iraq to bring back the bodies on a special flight. "The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata", she said.

The foundation had informed the Indian mission in Baghdad of the DNA matches on Monday, Swaraj said. "Now the minister today made such a statement", said Gurpinder Kaur, whose 27-year-old younger brother Manjinder Singh was among the missing Indians. They found in a mass grave.

One of the workers, Harjit Masih, managed to escape the massacre, returning to India in 2015 and telling a news website that he and his colleagues were taken to Badush four days after their kidnapping and gunned down.

" In October past year, relatives of the eight Punjabi-origin people had visited the Government Medical College in Amritsar to provide DNA samples for matching with the Indians stuck in the war-torn country, if required".

"Masih is just an individual, he could claim 39 others are dead but we are the Government, we cannot say this so easily". Iraqi authorities said the mass grave held 39 bodies, but only 38 have been positively identified through DNA analysis.

The workers, most from northern India, had been employed by a construction company operating near the northern city of Mosul. Swaraj said she had contacted Masih's employer and found out that he escaped from Iraq along with some Bangladeshis claiming that his name was "Ali" and that a "caterer helped Masih". In March 2016, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said she didn't believe a man who escaped from ISIS and claimed that he had witnessed the group being killed. The government had sent DNA samples of relatives for the objective of verification of bodies. He said the bodies will be sent back to India "in a couple of weeks or so".

Asking why the minister repeatedly misled the nation and the families and gave them "false hopes", Surjewala said that the government had - seven times from 2014 till July 2017 - said the Indians were safe, alive and being provided basic amenities and food.

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