External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said that the 39 missing Indians in Iraq have been killed. She was speaking in Rajya Sabha.
Forty Indians were originally abducted by terrorist organisation Islamic State from Mosul, Iraq. One of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, Swaraj said in a statement in Rajya Sabha at 11 am, as soon as the House convened. The remaining 39 Indians were taken to Badoosh and killed. Swaraj said search operations led to a mound in Badoosh where locals said some bodies were buried by the ISIS. Deep penetration radars were used to establish that the mound indeed was a mass grave, she said, adding the Indian authorities requested their Iraqi counterpart to exhume the bodies.
The external affairs minister added that the mass grave had exactly 39 bodies, with distinctive features like long hair, non-Iraqi shoes and IDs. The bodies were then sent to Baghdad for DNA testing.DNA testing by Martyrs Foundation has established identity of 38 Indians while there has been 70 per cent matching of the DNA for the 39th person, she said. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will be flying to Iraq to bring back the bodies on a special flight.
The Indian Express had in June 2016 reported, quoting Kurdish officials, that there was no sign of 39 Indian workers in Iraq. Read that story here: No sign of 39 Indian workers in Iraq, say Kurdish officials
In July last year, Swaraj had told Parliament that there was no evidence to state that they were killed by the Islamic terrorists, adding that she would not commit the sin of declaring them dead. Read what Sushma Swaraj told Parliament
“If I mislead anyone, what advantage would I gain? What ulterior motive do I have? It is easy for me to declare them dead. Unless I get concrete evidence of their being killed, I will continue to search for them. Because if a person is alive and we declare him dead, it is a sin and I will not commit this sin,” Swaraj had told the Lok Sabha.
In July 2017, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari had said that there was no “substantial evidence” on whether the Indians were alive or dead and confirmed that their last known location, the prison at Badush, has been destroyed by the Islamic State.