"We had been saying that we neither have the evidence of them being alive nor the evidence of them being dead".
The deceased were mostly construction workers. She said DNA tests matched the workers with bodies recently found in a mass grave. "It could be six months back or two years back, in any case search for bodies would have begun only after the liberation of Mosul", the Union minister said. Until October 2017, both India and Iraq had maintained that all 39 could be alive. "We reached there and requested Iraqi authorities to use a deep penetration radar, which detected many bodies under the surface", she told parliament.
Though 40 Indians were kidnapped, one of them Harjit Masih from Punjab's Gurdaspur had managed to escape.
The 39 victims were taken hostage in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, where they had been working in 2014.
One of the workers was able to escape ISIL custody, the minister said. I received a shot in my right leg and was covered with bodies. Everyone around me fell.
Swaraj informed the Indian Parliament on Tuesday that deep penetration radar confirmed that there were no Indians among those now in Daesh's captivity. Kaur had last spoken to her husband on June 15, 2014.
Singh said the government tried everything possible to verify the details relating to the Indians. "We want Sushma Swaraj to tell us the whole truth". What was the need to lie to us? We have to talk to the state governments also. Inquiries from a caterer revealed that the ISIS caught them when they were coming back after meals.
In her suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha, Swaraj said that she would "not declare anyone dead without substantive proof".
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared "total victory" over ISIL in July last year after almost three years of war backed by the US-led coalition. Everyone paid tribute, I thought same would happen in Lok Sabha.
Speaking on Harjit Masih's claims, Sushma said that he is just an individual who can simply claim that 39 others are dead, adding that the Government cannot say so very easily as it has to be responsible. "Today I have come to fulfil that commitment".
Kamaljit had left Hoshiarpur in 2013 for better employment opportunities in Iraq. At a loss for words, Tiwari, whose nephew Vidya Bhushan Tiwari was among the 39 dead, said he had been pleading with the Centre since 2014 to bring the "missing" Indians back. "The plane carrying the mortal remains will first reach Amritsar, then Patna and then go to Kolkata", Sushma Swaraj said.