The hopes of families of 39 missing Indians in Iraq have finally been dashed as Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Upper House of Parliament that the Indians missing in conflict-ridden Mosul area since June 2014 are dead.
Making a statement in Parliament, Sushma said, “All 39 Indians who were kidnapped in Iraq have died.”
“With a heavy heart, I have to inform the House that they are no more,” she added.
The 39 Indian construction workers went missing in Mosul, a city of Iraq, in 2014 when it was overrun by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group. There was hope that missing Indians will be found after Mosul was freed from IS in July last year.
The Indian Minister informed the House that deep penetration radar has confirmed that all Indians were dead after their bodies were exhumed.
“Their mortal remains were sent to Baghdad. For verification of bodies, DNA samples of relatives were sent there. Four state governments - Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar were involved,” Sushma said.
“Yesterday, we got the information that the DNA samples of 38 people have matched, while the DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 per cent,” she added.
About 15 days ago, VK Singh, Indian Minister of State for External Affairs, had said that the government had completed the DNA testing of the families of the 39 Indian workers.
“DNA samples, as received from our respective state governments, have been forwarded to the Iraqi authorities for inclusion in their database for matching with the DNA from the human remains being retrieved by them from mass graves. The report of the test is awaited," Singh had said.
The Indian External Affairs Minister also informed the House that VK Singh will go to Iraq and bring the bodies back to India.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also paid tributes to Indians killed in Iraq. He tweeted, "Every Indian grieves with those who lost their loved ones in Mosul. We stand in solidarity with the bereaved families and pay our respects to the Indians killed in Mosul."
Later, Sushma Swaraj held a press conference in which she confirmed the death of the 39 missing Indians in Iraq. She recounted the consistent efforts of the Government of India in learning the truth about them. She raised the matter in various bilateral meetings with Gulf nations and personally interacted with the Foreign Ministers of these countries.
She also informed about sending of the DNAs of the close family members of the deceased to the Iraqi authorities.
Regarding founding of bodies and evidence of them as missing Indians, Sushma Swaraj said, “A mound was found in Badush and with the help of Deep Penetration Radar technique, we were able to find that there were dead bodies inside it. The number of bodies were 39. Some bodies had long hairs and wearing kada (iron bracelet worn by Sikhs) which gave possibility that they could be Indians. Later, the bodies were taken to Baghdad.”
“The first body whose DNA matched with of his parents was of Sandeep Kumar. Yesterday, we got the information that the DNA samples of 38 people have matched, while the DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 per cent,” she added.
The External Affairs Minister also referred to her speech in the Parliament delivered on 24 November, 2014 and 27 July, 2017 in which she said “I will not declare them dead without any evidence. It will be a sin.”
She also assured the House during the speech that whenever she will get evidence about the 39 missing Indians, she will inform the Parliament if it is in session or disclose it on Twitter if the Parliament is not in session.”
Sushma Swaraj also castigated the Congress Party for creating disruptions in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) when she was sharing the sad news about the death of 39 Indians in Iraq.