New Delhi: All the 39 Indians, who were abducted by ISIS in Iraq nearly three years back, were killed and their bodies have been recovered, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj told Parliament on Tuesday.
As many as 40 Indians were originally abducted by terrorist organisation ISIS in June 2015 from Mosul in Iraq but one of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, Swaraj said in a suo motu statement in Rajya Sabha.
The remaining 39 Indians were taken to Badoosh and killed.
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.
Swaraj said the mass grave had exactly 39 bodies, with distinctive features like long hair, non-Iraqi shoes and IDs.
The bodies were then sent to Baghdad for DNA testing. DNA testing by Martyrs Foundation has established identity of 38 Indians while there has been 70 percent matching of the DNA for the 39th person, she said.
Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh will be flying to Iraq to bring back the bodies on a special flight.
Most of the 39 persons are from Punjab, some are from Himachal and Bihar too. Family members say at the last meeting held in Delhi, government officials read out a letter from a source in Mosul, saying the captured Indians are alive and well. "What surprises us is that all these years the government has been saying they are alive and well and appears to have information of their well being, but we have never been given any direct and concrete proof of their safety," says Gurpinder, whose brother Manjinder worked at a construction site in Mosul and was taken captive on June 11, 2014.
Family members of several of those gone missing have undergone immense hardship over the years as those captured were in many cases the sole breadwinners. Not only are families coping with the financial crisis but also with the emotional uncertainty of dealing with a situation where they have no information.