Authorities say the 39 Indians who had been “missing” in Iraq’s Mosul area for over three years, were killed by ISIS and dumped in a mass grave.
Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told parliament on Tuesday that the bodily remains were identified with the help of DNA samples of their family members.
Amongst the 39 Indians missing, 31 belonged to the northern state of Punjab, four to Himachal Pradesh in north, and the rest belonged to the states of Bihar and West Bengal, both eastern states. Thanking the Iraqi government, Sushma said that the dead bodies were discovered with the help of a deep penetration radar, and thereafter they were exhumed and their DNA samples were matched with those of their respective family members.
All the DNA have fully matched, except one whose only 70 per cent DNA samples could be matched with those of his relatives as his parents are not alive,’’ the minister added while making the announcement in the parliament upper house Rajya Sabha.
She also thanked the “Martyrs Foundation” which, according to her, carried out the difficult task of matching the DNA samples.
“Junior External Affairs Minister V.K. Singh will take a special flight to Iraq and bring back the remains of all the 39 dead.
“Thereafter, the remains would be handed over to their respective family members,’’ Sushma said.
A media report said the Indians had gone to Iraq to work as laborers. In 2014, as many as 40 Indians were abducted by ISIS and kept hostages for a couple of days, before allegedly being shot dead.
Harjit Masih, one of the hostages, claimed to be present on the spot when all were shot dead, and managed to escape after being shot in the leg.