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Indians killed in Iraq: Never gave any false hope to anyone, says Sushma; Cong slams govt insensitive

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External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday defended herself against a raft of criticism employed by the opposition Congress. The minister slammed Congress of indulging in ‘cheap politics’ even though she said that the government did not keep anyone in the dark over the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul.

Opposition set off a row with accusations against the government of being insensitive for not informing the victims’ families first. Within about 30 minutes, the Rajya Sabha was adjourned for the day after Sushma Swaraj made a suo motu statement on the issue. To clear the air, the Union Minister later held a press conference as the Opposition disrupted her statement in the Lok Sabha raising slogans.

Swaraj earlier on Tuesday confirmed that 39 Indians, who went missing in Mosul in Iraq in the year 2014 have been killed.

Speaking at Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said that the dreaded terror outfit Islamic State (IS) had killed all the Indian nationals.

In July last year, Swaraj had firmly said in the Parliament that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.

“It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence. I will not do this sin,” Swaraj said in a statement in the Lok Sabha in 2017.

As many as 40 Indians were originally abducted by terrorist organisation ISIS in June 2015 from Mosul in Iraq but one of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, Swaraj said in a suo motu statement. The remaining 39 Indians were taken to Badoosh and killed.

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.

Swaraj said 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 the identity of 38 Indians while there has been 70% 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 External Affairs Ministry had earlier classified them as ‘missing persons’ and conducted search efforts.

The Rajya Sabha observed a silence for the deceased.

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