External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that the bodies of 39 Indians abducted by Islamic State three years ago were recovered from a mound in Iraq’s Badush area and not from mass graves as reported.
“The bodies were not recovered from mass graves. We got these bodies when VK Singh went to Badush,” Swaraj told the media.
The external affairs minister earlier said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha that their bodies were recovered from a mound in Badush and their identities were established through DNA testing.
"When our team visited the mound in Badush, they found strands of long hair and kada. We requested the Iraqi officials to conduct DNA of the bodies recovered from the mound first,” Swaraj added.
The minister further asserted that she did not keep anyone in dark. “I informed the House first,” she said, adding, “It is yet not clear when the Indians were killed”.
Swaraj also told the media that the DNA of 38 Indians matched with the remains of the bodies found and a body was a 70 per cent match.
The external affairs minister said that it was her duty to inform the House, since Parliament is in session.
A group of 40 India workers, mostly from Punjab and Bihar, were taken hostage by the ISIS when it invaded Iraq’s second largest city Mosul in 2014. Only Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur managed to escape by faking his identity as a Bangladeshi Muslim. He claimed to have witnessed the massacre of the 39 Indians.