New Delhi: All 39 Indians kidnapped by ISIS in Mosul three years ago are dead, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.
“Deep penetration radar confirmed that all Indians were dead after all bodies were exhumed,” said Sushma Swaraj.
Sushma Swaraj said that the mortal remains were sent to Baghdad. She added, “For verification of bodies DNA samples of relatives were sent there, four state government - Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar were involved.”
The foreign minister further said, “Yesterday (Monday) we got information that DNA samples of 38 people have matched and DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 per cent.”
Sushma Swaraj also informed that Minister of State for External Affairs General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed.
“The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata,” said Swaraj.
The group of Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, was taken hostage by ISIS when it overran Iraq's second largest city Mosul in 2014. The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were intercepted.
In July last year, Swaraj had firmly said in the Parliament that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.
"It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin," Swaraj said in a statement in the Lok Sabha in 2017.
Earlier, India had asked Iraq for help in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from IS.
In 2017, Sushma Swaraj had told the families of the workers that an Iraqi official, quoting intelligence sources, had told VK Singh that the Indians were made to work at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm before they were put in a jail in Badush.
The government had been attacked by Opposition including the Congress of misleading the country by saying that the prisoners were in a prison in Badush in Mosul.
Partap Singh Bajwa, a lawmaker of the main opposition party, referred to media reports that the jail that Sushma Swaraj referred to was in ruins and charged: "She has lost all credibility".
One of the captured Indians, Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur, had managed to escape and had claimed to have witnessed the massacre of the others. But the government rejected it.
More than 10,000 Indians fled Iraq amid the upsurge in violence in 2014, including dozens of nurses who were held briefly by suspected IS militants in Tikrit and Mosul before being allowed to return home.