Govt started looking for bodies just as soon Mosul was freed: Swaraj

21 March, 2018, 08:00 | Author: Rolando Keller
  • 39 Indians killed in Mosul: Intelligence agencies knew of deaths in 2014; Govt waited for Mosul liberation before

Earlier in the day, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said all the 39 Indians who were abducted by ISIS in Iraq almost three years ago were killed, and their bodies had been recovered.

Gurpinder Kaur, the sister of Punjab resident Manjinder Singh who was killed in Iraq, heard the news on television, and refused to believe that her brother was dead because she said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told her that her brother was alive. DNA testing provided matches for 38 of the missing men while the last was a 70 percent match, Swaraj said.

Last year, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had brushed aside all the speculations about the death of the abductees, arguing that she would not declare they were dead unless there was concrete evidence to prove it.

Sushma said on Tuesday that she had repeatedly told the families that "I have no evidence of their being either dead or alive" - the equanimous position that governments and defence forces usually adopt to ensure that false hopes are not raised.

The minister said after the ISIS was overthrown, her deputy and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh visited Iraq in search of the missing Indians. A special plane carrying the deceased will first fly to Amritsar and then to Patna and Kolkata.

Amongst the 39 Indians missing, 31 belonged to the northern state of Punjab, four to Himachal Pradesh in north, and the rest belonged to the states of Bihar and West Bengal, both eastern states.

"Every Indian grieves with those who lost their loved ones in Mosul", Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

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Clarifying on why the kin of the victims were not informed before the parliament about the deaths, Sushma said it was her duty and parliamentary procedure to inform the House first before anyone else.

Speaking on Harjit Masih's claims, Sushma said that he is just an individual who can simply claim that 39 others are dead, adding that the Government cannot say so very easily as it has to be responsible.

Mosul was freed in July a year ago and after that the government came to know about a mound located in Badoosh where ISIS was believed to have buried the bodies, Swaraj had earlier told the Parliament.

Opposition leaders and families of the men said the government had kept them in the dark. When an eyewitness came forward said that the ISIS have killed the Indians, they rejected it too.

"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". She told that the information about the captured Indians being taken to Badush city came from the company where they used to work.

In a statement, Iraq's government said it had worked with the Indian Embassy to positively identify the remains using DNA samples.

"We recovered ID cards, long hair, kada and some non-Iraqi footwear", Swaraj said.


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