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India says 39 workers abducted in Iraq in 2015 dead

21 March 2018

In her address in the Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said all 39 Indians kidnapped by ISIS in Mosul three years ago are dead.

"Out of the 39 missing Indians, until now, DNA of a total of 38 human remains have matched with the DNA obtained from the blood samples of the relatives from the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal which were handed over by us to the forensic department".

Swaraj earlier said in the Rajya Sabha that their bodies were recovered from Badosh - a village in the northwest of Mosul - and their identities established through DNA testing although it was not immediately known when the Indians were killed.

Kolkata: More family members of Indians who were killed in cold blood by the terror group ISIS in Iraq are coming out to say that the government did not inform them before it went public in parliament.

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Union Minister VK Singh said the government was "looking for proof of life" in a war-torn country and it was "always the easier choice" to have declared them dead. Sushma Swaraj said that 39 Indians missing in Mosul have been killed.

Punjab state's chief minister Amarinder Singh described it as "heart-wrenching news". The relatives of the 39 Indians were made to undergo DNA test a year ago. He wrote, "I'm shocked to hear that 39 Indians who were in captivity since 2014, in Iraq, are now confirmed dead".

According to NDTV, Harjit Masih, a labourer from Gurdaspur, who had managed to escape the abductors, had given a statement that the group was gunned down in the desert near Badush on June 15, 2014. Family members say at the last meeting held in Delhi, government officials read out a letter from a source in Mosul, saying the captured Indians are alive and well.

In a statement, Iraq's government said it had worked with the Indian Embassy to positively identify the remains using DNA samples. A total of 40 Indians were kidnapped by ISIS in June 2014, out of which one, Harjit Masih, is believed to have escaped posing as a Muslim through Bangladesh. They were first taken to a textile factory where Bangladeshi workers were separated and sent to the city of Erbil.

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The bodies were later exhumed with help from Iraqi authorities and sent for DNA testing to Baghdad, the report said. The government had sent DNA samples of relatives for the goal of verification of bodies.

She said that every family should be compensated Rs 1 crore each and Sushma Swaraj should apologise to them publicly.

"The MEA and particularly my colleagues Sushma Swaraj and General V K Singh left no stone unturned in trying to trace and safely bring back those we lost in Mosul".

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India says 39 workers abducted in Iraq in 2015 dead