India confirms death of 39 Indians missing in Iraq since 2014

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Living on a prayer, the last sliver of hope died on Tuesday morning when Union Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj confirmed the deaths of 39 captive Indians.

Referring to criticism from some opposition members and families of the deceased who said they got to know about death of their loved ones through television, Swaraj said she followed parliamentary procedures.

One question kept bouncing back through the day, revolving around a perception that foreign minister Sushma Swaraj had kept the hopes of the families alive. The DNA test for the remaining body has yet to be fully confirmed. The DNA of 38 Indians has been matched. The bodies, which were exhumed with help from Iraqi authorities, were sent to Baghdad for DNA testing with the help of Martyrs Foundation.

The group of 40 men, majority construction workers, were kidnapped from war-ravaged Mosul, the northern Iraqi city which was once a stronghold of Islamic State. She told that the information about the captured Indians being taken to Badush city came from the company where they used to work.

As many as 40 Indians were abducted by the terrorist organisation in 2014 but one of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, Swaraj said.

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Kaur demanded the DNA reports and said, "We had been running from pillar to post since four years and now we're being told via TV that we lost one of our own".

Speaking to ANI, the Congress spokesperson, Randeep Surjewala said, "Modi Government has passed all limits of heartlessness when the whole world was saying they have died, the Indian Government assured the country and the kin that they are alive". "Till late in the evening, none of the officials from either the centre or the West Bengal government has approached us", Abhishek Hira, cousin of Khokhon Sikdar, said.

In July 2017, Sushma Swaraj had said that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.

Making a suo moto statement, Mrs Swaraj said, her deputy General V K Singh will go to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the Indians killed. "And if Parliament would not be in session, I will inform the people of India within 10 minutes on Twitter", Swaraj said in the parliament. She indicates that this issue is very bad and she added that their bodies were spotted using deep penetration radar. Later at a press conference, Swaraj admitted that at this stage, it would not be possible for her to say when or how the Indians died.

According to her, the caterer had said he had dropped the Bangladeshi men and Masih in his van to the Erbil border in northern Iraq from where Masih spoke to her. Opposition Congress condoled the deaths but its leader and Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad sought to remind the government that it had "assured us a year ago that the Indians were alive".