Sushma Swaraj praises VK Singh for his Iraq efforts

External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj at the press conference on Tuesday

Swaraj further said: "When General VK Singh (minister of state for external affairs) went to Iraq to find them (the 39 missing Indians), I asked him to meet the company's owner in Mosul where the Indians were working". The bodies were exhumed and DNA samples from relatives of the missing workers were sent to Iraq.

Swaraj said Iraqi authorities informed the Indian government on Monday that DNA tests confirmed that 38 of them were the kidnapped workers.

Last year, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had brushed aside all the speculations about the death of the abductees, arguing that she would not declare they were dead unless there was concrete evidence to prove it. The government had for years said it would only declare the men dead once it had full evidence.

Swaraj on Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha that 39 Indians, who had gone missing in Iraqi town Mosul in 2014, have been killed in captivity of ISIS terrorists.

Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will be flying to Iraq to bring back their mortal remains to India on a special flight.

Punjab state's chief minister Amarinder Singh described it as "heart-wrenching news". Around 10,000 Indians worked and lived in Iraq at that time.

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". The timing appeared to have been forced upon the government by word from Baghdad that the Martyrs Foundation of Iraq, which was conducting the DNA tests, would hold a news conference on Tuesday at 1.30pm Indian time. He said that the other 39 men were executed by the militants after they were captured. Harjit Masih escaped, was brought back to India via Doha, Qatar and has reiterated since then that all 39 Indian construction workers were murdered in Iraq.

Of the deceased, 27 people were from Punjab, six were from Bihar, four from Himachal Pradesh and two from West Bengal.

Kin of victims have been asking her that why were they not told about the death of their relatives before the parliament, to which Sushma replied, "It is parliamentary procedure to first inform the house, so it was my duty", adding that handing over bodies without verification just to close the files would have been a "sin". The bodies were then sent to Baghdad for DNA testing.

"We recovered ID cards, long hair, kada and some non-Iraqi footwear", Swaraj said. My deepest condolences to the families of those who have lived in hope, that their loved ones will return unharmed.

"What I fail to understand is that when those who gave their assurance actually kept quiet, the pandemonium was created by the Congress and it was Jyotiraditya Scindia who personally took the lead in this", Sushma Swaraj said.

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