No One Has Contacted Us, Say Families Of Indians Killed In Iraq

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After Iraq recaptured the area around Mosul, search operations led to a mound of dirt near Badush, where local residents said bodies had been buried by the ISIS, Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said in Parliament. Indian authorities then sent DNA samples of relatives of the missing workers.

Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala cited Parliament papers to show senior Congress leader Ambika Soni had raised this issue with Sushma Swaraj in July 2017, asking her "what was her source for being 100% sure that they were alive", since "one day she (Swaraj) would say that all this is not known and they are all dead".

Earlier a year ago in the month of October, family member of eight Punjabi origin persons who were coming missing in Iraq visited to Amritsar Government Medical College for DNA tests to send overseas with the hope that they may find their family members alive. Soon after Swaraj's statement in the Rajya Sabha, and a repeat of it in the Lok Sabha, the Opposition parties, while expressing condolences to the families of those deceased, also made it a point to question why it had taken Swaraj and the Modi government over three years to establish the sequence of events and reveal the truth.

The bodies will now be brought to India by Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh and handed over to the respective State governments.

"Shattered at the heart-wrenching news. that the 39 Indians missing in Iraq, most of whom were Punjabis, are dead", Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said on Twitter.

The said that "Indian worker Harjeet Masih who miraculously escaped from the clutches of the militants". "I had said that closure will be done with full proof".

Swaraj said the mass grave had exactly 39 bodies, with distinctive features like long hair, non-Iraqi shoes and IDs. Of the 40 men, Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur managed to escape by faking his identity as a Muslim from Bangladesh and claimed to have witnessed the massacre of the others.

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According to Financial Express, both Iraq and India had maintained that the 39 Indians were alive until October a year ago.

The department had earlier collected DNA samples from the kin of the hostages, which was then matched with the remains of bodies found in one of the mass graves. He said the bodies will be sent back to India "in a couple of weeks or so". Four governments Punjab, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar were involved.

I knew something serious has happened to my brother, but the government was not willing to (disclose the goal of collecting the DNA samples).

Sushma said that the ISIS had kidnapped the victims, a lot of them laborers from Punjab, in 2014.

The workers, most from northern India, had been employed by a construction company operating near the northern city of Mosul.

"We have been in constant touch with the Minister of External Affairs who assured us that the 39 Indians who were captive there were safe", advocate Gaurav Bansal said speaking to DNA.

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