39 Indian killed by IS in Iraq: Sushma

New Delhi, Mar 20: Minister of State for External Affairs Gen (Retd) V K Singh will go to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the 39 Indians killed by terror outfit Islamic State (IS) and the bodies will be also taken to the nearest kin in Pubjab, Himachal, Bihar and West Bengal, External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj said here on Tuesday.
Of the 39 Indians who went missing around June in 2014 – DNA tests conducted has confirmed that samples of 38 people have matched and one person Raju Yadav from Bihar has matched only 70 per cent. These Indians were missing in Mosul nearly three years back.
“Of the 38 Indians, 27 were from Punjab, four from Himachal Pradesh, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal,” Swaraj told a press conference here and maintained the final confirmation of Raju Yadav is still being awaited as the DNA testing by Martyrs Foundation has still not confirmed about Raju Yadav’s details.
“Raju Yadav’s parents are not alive, so we had to sent DNA samples of his relatives. Further tests are on,” she said.
The Minister maintained that the government of India or she as the country’s Foreign Minister has “never misled” anyone on the possibility of survival of missing Indians and said the government has acted only “responsibly” by not admitting about the deaths before getting any evidence.
“Some governments must have said the missing are believed to have died. We did not want to say so,” she said.
Asked whether government could have given credence to the version of Harjeet Masi that all 39 Indians have been killed, the Foreign Minister said, “Harjeet Masi is just an individual….he can easily say somebody is dead. But we are a government here. We could have taken his words and said easily that they are dead, but that would have been irresponsible”.
“A responsible government has to look for evidence and we lived up to that yardstick. Our efforts have actually helped us to reach logical conclusion. Today I can affirmatively say, yes they are dead,” she said adding “I have their DNA certificates to say so”.
Earlier in the Rajya Sabha also, she maintained: “I have proof that Harjeet Masi’s story that the Indians are alive was incorrect. The Indians are dead”.
To another question, Swaraj denied that Harjeet Masi is being harassed. “There is no harassment…He is kept in protective custody only,” Swaraj said.
The plane carrying the mortal remains will first go to Amritsar and if necessary even Jalandhar depending on the local necessities and then to Patna and finally to Kolkata.
The Minister said search operations led to a mound in Badoosh where locals said some bodies were buried by the ISIS.
She said at the requests of Indian government, deep penetration radars were used to establish that the mound indeed was a mass grave. (UNI)