39 Indians abducted by IS in Iraq dead, confirms Sushma Swaraj

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Dashing hopes of families that were desperately hoping for their safe return from Iraq, the Indian government has confirmed that all the 39 Indians abducted by Islamic State in Mosul in 2014 were dead.

The bodies, exhumed from a mass grave, were sent to Baghdad for DNA tests, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha.

“Yesterday we got information that DNA samples of 38 people have matched and DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 per cent,” Swaraj reportedly said.

Minister of state for external affairs VK Singh would bring back the mortal remains from Iraq. The plane would first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata, the minister was quoted as saying.

The Indian government has said that Iraqi authorities have assured it of all cooperation in locating the captives.

In July last year, Swaraj had 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 had said in a statement in the Lok Sabha in 2017.

Harjit Masih, the only Indian to escape the abductors, had claimed that the others in the group were gunned down on June 15, 2014, media reports said.

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