Parliament misled for four years, says Congress

Joann Johnston
March 21, 2018

"I had been saying for the last three years that all 39 Indians had been killed (by ISIS militants)", Masih said.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday lashed out at the Congress for stopping her from making a statement in the Lok Sabha about the 39 missing Indians whose bodies were found in Iraq.

As many as 40 Indians were abducted by the terrorist organisation in 2014 but one of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, Swaraj said.

The DNA testing by Martyrs Foundation has established the identity of 38 Indians while there has been 70 per cent matching of the DNA for the 39th person, she added.

"The government has not been forthcoming from the very beginning and today, it has suddenly announced the deaths of missing Indians in Parliament, " Ms Swaraj said. As her mental condition worsened, her brother took her to his home in Khothran village and her two children were forced to discontinue their schooling. "Till late in the evening, none of the officials from either the centre or the West Bengal government has approached us", Abhishek Hira, cousin of Khokhon Sikdar, said.

Ms Swaraj defended her decision to make the announcement public before the families were informed as she said she was "duty-bound to tell parliament first".

He said the bodies will be sent back to India "in a couple of weeks or so".

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Stating that that she had gone to the House with a heavy heart to give the sad and serious news after four years of efforts, she said: "Where was the need for Congress to kick up this ruckus? I was kept in custody for a year and was promised a job which has not been given yet". "I will get my closure when the families receive the bodies", the minister added. Analysis on the last body has not yet been completed, Swaraj said.

But the fact is the government on several occasions asserted that all 39 Indians were alive and safe although The New Indian Express had in mid-June 2014 itself broken the story of their murder. Unless I get concrete evidence of their being killed, I will continue to search for them. "That was disappointing behaviour", Shashi Tharoor, a leader of the opposition Congress party, said in a tweet.

"In Rajya Sabha everyone listened to me patiently".

"Tajinder spoke to us once on the phone after he was kidnapped", said Tevinder Singh, whose nephew Tajinder Singh was among those killed. "It is baseless that Harjit Masih was harassed, he was kept in protective custody".

Iraqi authorities used radar to verify that the mound was a mass grave, she said, and then exhumed the bodies.

The first person whose death was confirmed through DNA matching was a person called Sandeep. Further tests are needed in one instance as the DNA samples were not from the parents or siblings but other relatives, Sushma Swaraj said.

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