Indians hostages in Iraq's Mosul are dead, confirms Sushma Swaraj

Most of the victims were from low-income families in Punjab. But it was only when Iraqi authorities began digging last summer that the identity of the victims became clear. The mound had exactly 39 bodies, with distinctive features like long hair, Sikh kada (bracelet), non-Iraqi shoes and IDs.

Masih, a resident of Gurdaspur, Punjab, claimed in 2015 that he had witnessed the killing of the 39 Indians by ISIS fighters. The Union Minister said that the bodies of the deceased were exhumed and DNA samples sent for forensic test. At that time, all agencies were telling that they were killed.

DNA analysis has not been completed on the last body.

Those killed were "citizens of the friendly Indian state".

"It is baseless that Masih was harassed and that he was kept in protective custody", she said. He said that a few days after the Indian contingent was taken hostage in June, they were all taken to a hilltop and shot from behind.

The said that "Indian worker Harjeet Masih who miraculously escaped from the clutches of the militants".

Soni said: "We had given a call attention in 2014 in Parliament because we didn't have any other option of getting information from the government". "We never heard from him again". She also said it was not possible to declare all 39 dead based on Masih's claims as the government has to follow proper procedures to do so.

But this week, Indian officials confirmed that the bodies of 39 of those workers were found in a mass grave near Mosul.

Stating that that she had gone to the House with a heavy heart to give the sad and serious news after four years of efforts, she said: "Where was the need for Congress to kick up this ruckus?"

At the height of their power, ISIS controlled almost a third of the country. In recent years, Iraqi forces backed by a US -led coalition have gradually driven the militants from all the territory they once held. Then the ISIS took them to Badush.

Swaraj said Tuesday she was duty-bound to tell Parliament first about the death of the 39 Indians abducted by the Islamic State in Iraq and the government did not keep anyone in the dark amid criticism that their families were not informed about their relatives. "The report of the test is awaited", Singh had said.

According to Financial Express, both Iraq and India had maintained that the 39 Indians were alive until October a year ago.

The Associated Press quoted the envoy as saying that the bodies will be sent back to India "in a couple of weeks or so".

"They were killed in front of my eyes", said Harjit Masih, who suffered a gunshot wound before he managed to escape. When an eyewitness came forward said the IS have killed the Indians, they dismissed that too.

On the fateful day, they were made to sit on their knees and the militants then opened fire at them, he said.

"However painful, the families will get the dead bodies after over three years".

  • Valerie Cook