39 missing Indians in Iraq dead confirms Sushma Swaraj

39 missing Indians in Iraq dead confirms Sushma Swaraj

Thirty-nine Indians, who were captured by the terrorist outfit Islamic State (formerly ISIS) in June 2014 in Iraq, have been confirmed dead, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj informed the Parliament on Tuesday.

She made the announcement on the basis of DNA test results that revealed cent percent DNA match for 38 out of 39 missing Indians whereas for the remaining individual, DNA match was only up to 70%, necessitating a second round of tests with bone DNA.

Their bodies had been found in a grave in Badush, located about 25 km northwest of Iraqi city Mosul that was under the control of IS. The tests were carried out by Martyr's Foundation, a non-governmental organisation in Iraq.

Out of 39, as many as 27 were from Punjab, four were from Himachal Pradesh, six were from Bihar and two from West Bengal. All of them were construction workers.

"On Monday, they told us that 38 samples had been matched and the 39th had a partial match as he didn't have any immediate family (parents or siblings)," Sushma said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha.

While the opposition leaders allowed her to make the statement on the floor and observed silence in an obituary reference, the Leader of the opposition, Ghulam Nabi Azad reminded her that till last year, the government claimed these missing Indians were alive.

Swaraj said she had previously maintained that the abducted Indians would not be declared dead without substantive proof, which had come only now.

"I can understand the sentiments of the families who lost their near and dear ones. But it would have been irresponsible and a sin to declare someone dead without any proof. There is no falsehood," she said later at a press conference.

The minister said bodies were not found in the mass-graves in Mosul, but under a mount in Badush, about which junior foreign minister Gen V K Singh was informed when he visited Mosul in July 2017 after its liberation from the IS.

Subsequently, deep penetration radar was employed to search for human bodies under the mount. When the radar came up with positive results, bodies were exhumed to match their DNAs with their immediate families, for which samples were collected late last year.

The first proof was the presence of only 39 corpses. Secondly, some of them had long hairs, which indicated their Sikh ancestry and one kada (iron bracelet worn by the Sikhs) was recovered. Some non-Iraqi foot ware too were found. On the basis of these proofs, the samples were sent to Baghdad for DNA tests.

Swaraj said the first person with a 100% DNA match was Sandip Kumar and the only one with a 70% match is Raju Kumar Yadav, who hails from Bihar.

The Indian Embassy in Baghdad has now been asked to expedite the legal formalities after which Gen Singh will fly to Iraq once again to bring back the bodies.


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