The bodies of 39 Indian construction workers kidnapped in Iraq in 2014 by the Islamic State group have been found in a mass grave, India's foreign minister said Tuesday. "It is a sin to declare a person dead without concrete evidence".
The workers were abducted in June 2014 when IS jihadists overran large swathes of territory in Iraq and captured Mosul.
"They should apologise to the nation and family members of the dead, majority who hailed from Punjab", Aman Arora, AAP MLA and senior leader, told The Hindu. The DNA matching process is still incomplete for the final victim. The minister confirmed that DNA tests conducted on the exhumed bodies confirmed the identity of the dead.
They were mainly from the state of Punjab and have been identified by their DNA samples, India's foreign minister Sushma Swaraj said.
She said General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back mortal remains of Indians killed in Iraq. The bodies were subsequently flown to Baghdad.
Her reply came hours after the Congress accused her of misleading the bereaved families, by deliberately delaying the disclosure about their deaths. It is parliamentary procedure to first inform the House, so it was my duty to inform the House first, Swaraj said. "Further, the government of India should announce an ex gratia relief to the families of the deceased Indian nationals", Singh said in the letter.
Notably, Harjit Masih (24), of Kala Afghana village in Punjab, who was abducted along with 39 other Indian workers, who managed to return to the country, had claimed that all 39 were killed after they were shot by terrorists. Indian authorities then sent DNA samples of relatives of the missing workers.