Can't declare anyone as dead without proof: Sushma Swaraj

Can't declare anyone as dead without proof: Sushma Swaraj

Can't declare anyone as dead without proof: Sushma Swaraj

After years of uncertainty about the fate of 39 Indians abducted by the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj has confirmed they are dead.

"With full proof I can say these 39 are dead", Swaraj said on Tuesday.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh is expected to bring the remains of the missing Indians back to the country.

Swaraj said that after the Daesh was overthrown, Singh, her deputy and Minister of State for External Affairs, visited Iraq in search of the missing Indians. The aircraft, which will carry the mortal remains, will first go to Amritsar where 31 bodies of those from Punjab and four from Himachal Pradesh would be handed over to the relatives.

The group of 40 men, a lot of them construction workers, were kidnapped from war-ravaged Mosul, the northern Iraqi city which was once a stronghold of Islamic State.

"Every Indian grieves with those who lost their loved ones in Mosul", Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. "We stand in solidarity with the bereaved families and pay our respects to the Indians killed in Mosul", Modi said. The relatives of the 39 Indians were made to undergo DNA test previous year.

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The reveal comes in the wake of several mass graves being found in Mosul in July 2017, after it was liberated from the ISIS.

Speaking on Harjit Masih's claims, Sushma said that he is just an individual who can simply claim that 39 others are dead, adding that the Government cannot say so very easily as it has to be responsible.

Meanwhile, the grieving families of the 39 workers on Tuesday said they were given false assurance for years by the Centre, which said that the men were alive.

She said the bodies were spotted using deep penetration radar and were exhumed from mass graves. "The DNA of 38 Indians have been matched", she said. He said that the workers had been in phone contact with their families and the Indian embassy in Baghdad in the days before their execution. "Since 2014, I had been pleading with the government to bring him back somehow and today they say that he is no more", he told ANI in Siwan, Bihar.

Sushma said the bodies of all but one had been identified with the help of DNA samples collected last year and early this year from the relatives of the missing Indians.

In a September 26, 2016 dated letter, the MEA informed Gurpinder Kaur - her brother was one of the captive Indians - that Swaraj was monitoring the situation carefully, and that in light of the situation, the Iraqi camp Erbil was upgraded to the level of Consulate General of India. These bodies were sent to Baghdad for DNA testing. "My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by Isis in 2014".

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