39 Indians killed in Iraq: VK Singh hits back at opposition, says 'no one was misled'
With the opposition asking why Sushma Swaraj had given false hopes to families as 39 Indians were killed in Iraq, MoS VK Singh on Tuesday said the External Affairs Minister told Parliament about the deaths only after verifying the facts completely. He said "no one was misled", adding that it was "job of the opposition to take everything in the wrong way".
Sushma Swaraj, while speaking in the Rajya Sabha today, said that the 39 missing Indians in Iraq have been killed. She said that the confirmation came after the DNA samples of 38 persons had matched. In the case of the 39th India, the sample was a 70 per cent match, she also said in the Rajya Sabha.
"Different news came from different angles, hence an effort was made to verify facts by going there, then DNA matching was done. The External Affairs Minister had earlier stated that until there is strong proof of their death she will not inform the house," Singh, MoS External Affairs, told news agency ANI.
"There was hope, but then seeing the situation there chances of them being alive seemed slim. Legal procedures are underway there and might take 8-10 days, we are waiting for them to complete," he added.
The group of 40 men, most of them construction workers, were snatched from war-ravaged Mosul, the northern Iraqi city which was once a stronghold of Islamic State. Harjit Masih, the only Indian to escape the abductors, had claimed that the others in the group were gunned down on June 15, 2014.
Swaraj said search operations led to a mound in Badoosh where locals said some bodies were buried by the ISIS. Deep penetration radars were used to establish that the mound indeed was a mass grave, she said, adding the Indian authorities requested their Iraqi counterpart to exhume the bodies.
In July last year, Swaraj had told Parliament that there was no evidence to state that they were killed by the Islamic terrorists, adding that she would not commit the sin of declaring them dead. In July 2017, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari had said that there was no "substantial evidence" on whether the Indians were alive or dead.