NEW DELHI: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor today slammed the government for 'encouraging' the families of the 39 Indians kidnapped in Iraq to believe they were alive, a charge countered by Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal who said it was important to verify the facts.
Giving falsehood to people is actually cruel and suggests a certain level of lack transparency on part of the government, Tharoor said.
It is better to be honest, he added.
"My prayers for the families who have lost their near ones after being really encouraged by the government for four years to believe that these people were alive," he told reporters outside Parliament.
Hitting back, Union Food Processing Minister and Akali Dal MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal accused the opposition leaders of playing politics over an unfortunate incident.
Defending the government, she said it took every measure to verify if even one of those kidnapped was alive.
"Do you not think that it is the job of the government and especially the external affairs ministry to carry on looking for even one proof, even one person being alive until the all doors have been shut," the minister told reporters.
Sad news of the confirmation of the deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq. 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? That was disappointing behaviour.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) March 20, 2018
Defending External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Badal said the former 'carried on the fight' trying to look for those who had been kidnapped.
"She (Swaraj) went on to the extent of having DNA sent over there and had proper proof that yes they are dead. She stood up in the Parliament and said yes I tried but I could not and today we have a proof", the minister added.
Swaraj said in a statement in the Rajya Sabha that all the 39 Indians abducted by the terror outfit in Iraq's Mosul about four years ago are dead and their bodies have been recovered.
While it was not immediately known when the Indians were killed, their bodies were recovered from Badosh, a village northwest of Mosul, and their identities established through DNA testing, she said.
The mortal remains, which were exhumed from a mass grave in Badosh, will be brought back to India on a special plane and handed over to their relatives, she said.
Many of those in the group of 39 are from Punjab.