Union foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said in Rajya Sabha on March 20 that 39 Indians stranded in Mosul (Iraq) were killed by ISIS. The minister also said that the stranded Indians were kidnapped and most of them were from Punjab. The Union minister revealed that the bodies of the deceased were exhumed and DNA samples sent for forensic test. The 39 Indians were kidnapped by ISIS in Mosul in 2014. Until October last year, both India and Iraq had contended that the 39 people were alive. The relatives of the 39 Indians were made to undergo DNA test last year. She also told Parliament that MoS EAM, General VK Singh, will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains. The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata. She further said that mortal remains of deceased were kept in Baghdad. The government had sent DNA samples of relatives for the purpose of verification of bodies. Along with the Central, four state governments – Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar – were also involved in the process. Deep penetration radar confirmed that all Indians were dead after all bodies were exhumed.
Although such sad events do not warrant war of words, yet Congress Party MP Shashi Tharoor in his condolence also criticized the government for raising false hope to nation — “Thoughts & prayers are w/their families. But why did the Govt give false hope to the nation for three and a half years that the people were still alive?” Deep condolence was also expressed by Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh who twitted “Shattered at the heart-wrenching news from @SushmaSwaraj that the 39 Indians missing in Iraq, most of whom were Punjabis, are dead. My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by ISIS in 2014. Prayers with all of them.” Defending herself against a raft of criticism, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj accused the Congress of indulging in ‘cheap politics’ even as she said the government did not keep anyone in the dark over the death of 39 Indians in Iraq’s Mosul. In a press conference, Mrs.Swaraj noted that while everyone listened to her statement patiently in the Rajya Sabha, she expected the same in the Lok Sabha but the Congress led by Jyotiraditya Scindia disrupted her speech. Giving details from the incident, Swaraj said, “Our govt does not believe in “missing, believed to be killed”. Declared about the death of 39 Indians only after getting proof. While maintaining that she did not keep anyone in the dark about the deaths, Sushma Swaraj said, “It would have been a sin had we handed over anybody’s body claiming it to be those of our people, just for the sake of closing files.”
A group of 40 Indian workers, mostly from Punjab, and some Bangladeshi were taken hostage by ISIS when it overran Iraq’s second largest city Mosul in 2014. Of the 40 Indians, one Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur had managed to escape. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is a Salafi jihadist terrorist organisation and former unrecognised proto-state that follows fundamentalist, Wahhabi, and heterodox doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIL gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre. This group has been designated a terrorist organisation by the United Nations and many individual countries. ISIL is widely known for its videos of beheadings and other types of executions of both soldiers and civilians, including journalists and aid workers, and its destruction of cultural heritage sites. The United Nations holds ISIL responsible for human rights abuses and war crimes. ISIL also committed ethnic cleansing on a historic scale in northern Iraq. ISIL originated as Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad in 1999, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and participated in the Iraqi insurgency following the 2003 invasion of Iraq by Western forces. In July 2017, the group lost control of its largest city, Mosul, to the Iraqi army. Following this major defeat, ISIL continued to lose territory to the various states and other military forces allied against it, until it controlled no meaningful territory by November 2017. U.S. military officials reported in December 2017 that the group retained a mere 2 percent of the territory they had previously held. On 10 December 2017, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Iraqi forces had driven the last remnants of Islamic State from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory. Simultaneous military analyses in December 2017 reported that the group had lost more than 98% of the territory it controlled a year prior.
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