India confirms deaths of 39 missing citizens in Iraq

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Facing a volley of questions on Tuesday after she confirmed in Parliament the death of 39 Indians who were reported missing in Iraq in 2014, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said the government can not confirm any person's death without concrete proof in hand and it was her duty to inform Parliament first about such an important piece of news rather than the victims' families.

"I had been saying for the last three years that all 39 Indians had been killed (by ISIS militants)", Masih said. That person had said that he was witness to a mass killing in that spot, ' said Swaraj, addressing a press conference in New Delhi after she made a suo motu speech in Parliament on the matter.

The dirt mound in the dry hills outside the village of Badush was known as a place where Islamic State fighters had buried some of their enemies after they overran much of northern Iraq almost four years ago.

The 39 Indians included 27 from Punjab, four from Himachal Pradesh, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal. As many as 40 Indians were abducted by ISIS in June 2015 from Mosul in Iraq but one of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha.

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She said that till Mosul was freed in July a year ago from the IS, the government was trying to ascertain if these 39 people were alive.

She added that the DNA samples of 38 people had been matched by the Iraqi authorities. Commending Singh for his efforts, she said he had to sleep on floor of a small house during the search operations. Govt gave false hope: Cong The Congress accused the NDA government of being "insensitive" towards the families of the 39 Indians and giving them "false hopes". "Verification of one victim is under process", she said, adding that the bodies were not found in a mass grave in Mosul, but from Badush - a village in northwest of Mosul.

Grieving family members of the victims assailed the government for not informing them about the deaths personally and alleged failure to ensure safe return of their loved ones. "But we were kidnapped by militants and kept hostage for some days", he said.

As many as 39 Indians, who had gone to Iraq to earn their livelihood, had been missing since 2014.

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"With full proof I can say these 39 are dead". Everyone paid tribute, I thought same would happen in Lok Sabha.

The government could not say when the hostages had been killed.

The remains were dug out, sent to the Iraqi capital Baghdad where the Martyrs Foundation - an Iraq-based organisation - matched the DNA samples from the bodies and that sent by the Indian government from the immediate blood relatives of those missing. "The Congress's behaviour today has crossed all limits of low-level politics". 'Some family members of the 39 missing Indians asked why I informed Parliament, and not the families first.

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