NEW DELHI: Authorities then sent DNA samples taken from relatives of the missing workers to Iraq. These tests confirmed that 38 of them were the kidnapped workers, while one was yet to be fully confirmed because he had no immediate kin and the DNA the authorities had sent were from other relatives, she told the Rajya Sabha.
After she was prevented from making the same announcement in the Lok Sabha by the Congress party, she addressed a Press conference during which she rubbished opposition charges of misleading the families by insisting the youths were alive.
“We had been saying that we neither have the evidence of them being alive nor the evidence of them being dead. We maintained this in 2014 and 2017. We did not keep anyone in dark. We gave no false hopes to anyone. 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 the files,” she said.
The relentless search for the workers led to a grave in Badush, where deep penetration radar was used to establish the presence of bodies below a mound. The bodies, which were exhumed with help from Iraqi authorities, had distinctive features like long hair, ‘kada’, non-Iraqi shoes and IDs.
“The bodies were sent to Baghdad for DNA testing. Local inquiries led to the mass grave, from where bodies were exhumed and taken to Baghdad for DNA testing. These were mass graves. It was a pile of bodies. To track down the bodies of our people and take them to Baghdad to test was a huge task,”
Baghdad- based Martyrs Foundation was requested to expedite and help establish the identity of these Indians on priority. “The first match was of Sandeep... yesterday 38 matches were confirmed and the 39th person had been 70 per cent matched because DNA of his relatives was used in absence of his parents,” she said. “It has been the most difficult and complex task to get the proof.” she said.The bodies of the workers, 27 from Punjab, four from Himachal, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal, will be brought to India by special aircraft within a few days, she said.