External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday said that 39 Indians who were abducted in Iraq’s Mosul have died. Addressing the Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said, “39 Indians who were kidnapped in Iraq have died. Deep penetration radar confirmed that all Indians were dead after all bodies were exhumed.”
Swaraj said that the mortal remains of those 39 Indians were sent to Baghdad, and for verification, the body DNA samples of the relatives were sent to Iraq. Four Indian states, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal, and Bihar were involved in the process.
She also added that the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) had got the information on Monday saying that DNA samples of 38 people had matched, but the DNA of the 39th person matched only 70 per cent.
Swaraj said that India will send General VK Singh to Iraq so that the mortal remains of the 39 Indians will be brought back to the country. The plane in which the mortal remains will be brought back will first go to Amritsar, then Patna, and finally to Kolkata.
Here are the live updates:
#04:07 PM: It would have been a sin had we handed over anybody's body claiming it to be those of our people, just for the sake of closing files: EAM Sushma Swaraj
#04:03 PM: We had been saying that we neither have the evidence of them being alive nor the evidence of them being dead. We maintained this in 2014 and 2017. We did not keep anyone in dark. We gave no false hopes to anyone: Swaraj
#03:57 PM: DNA samples of 38 people have been matched, verification of 1 victim is under process: EAM Sushma Swaraj
#03:55 PM: It would have been a sin had we handed over anybody's body claiming it to be those of our people, just for the sake of closing files: EAM Sushma Swaraj
#03:53 PM: Today Congress indulged in a very low level of politics, probably Congress president thought how did no uproar happened in Rajya Sabha and decided to ask Scindia Ji to lead protests in Lok Sabha. Playing politics on deaths: EAM Sushma Swaraj
#03:50 PM: In Rajya Sabha everyone listened to me speaking very patiently and in peace. Everyone paid tribute, I thought same would happen in Lok Sabha. But unlike the past few days of ruckus, today Congress led the protests under Jyotiraditya Scindia ji. Very unfortunate: EAM Sushma Swaraj
#03:45 PM: Sushma Swaraj is addressing a press conference on the death of 39 Indians abducted in Iraq's Mosul.
#01:00 PM: General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed in Iraq.
General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed in Iraq. The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata: EAM on 39 Indians who were kidnapped in Mosul pic.twitter.com/A0p6UaUMtp— ANI (@ANI) March 20, 2018
In July last year, Swaraj, along with Gen VK Singh, had met the family members of all the 39 Indians missing. She told the families that the fight is going on and that the Indian authorities were informed that the missing citizens were last located in a prison in Badush.
Swaraj told the reporters then, “I have already met them several times, but this time the situation was different as Iraqi Prime Minister recently announced that Mosul has been liberated from the ISIS. The very same day I asked VK Singh ji to go to Erbil and personally oversee where are the missing Indians and how can they be rescued. Sources there told V.K. Singh ji that the missing Indians are most probably in a jail in Badush where the fighting is still going on. Once fighting stops in Badush and the area is cleared, we can probably find out about the whereabouts of the missing nationals.”
On March 11, 2017, the Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, or Popular Mobilisation Forces, announced that it had found the remains of 500 prisoners executed by the IS in Badush prison. Sources in the Iraqi armed forces said it was likely that the abducted Indians were killed by the IS in the Badush prison already. The sole Indian who managed to escape was Harjit Masih, who told several media outlets that the others were gunned down in the desert near Badush on June 15, 2014.