NEW DELHI: Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday told the Rajya Sabha that all 39 Indians, who were abducted by ISIS in Iraq after it captured Mosul in June 2014, were killed and their bodies have been recovered. “I had said that I will not declare anyone dead without substantive proof... Today, I have come to fulfil that commitment,” she said.
In an exclusive story dated June 19, 2014, based on the testimony of a Bangladeshi worker who had managed to flee the fighting, The New Indian Express had reported that all 39 workers were feared killed by the ISIS. Forty Indians were initially abducted, but one of them, Harjit Masih, escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh. The remaining 39 were taken to Badush and killed. Search operations led to a mound in Badush where locals said there was a mass grave, Swaraj said.
On his return to India, Masih had claimed that all 39 had been shot soon after capture, but he had fled. Indian authorities refused to accept his version and continued their search.As Swaraj put it, “Masih is just an individual, he could claim 39 others are dead, but we are the government. We have to be responsible... It is baseless that Masih was harassed, he was kept in protective custody. I had said this in Parliament earlier.”
“General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains. The plane carrying mortal remains will first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata,” she added.Of the 39 Indians, 27 were from Punjab, four from HP, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal.