New Delhi, April 2: The mortal remains of 38 Indians who were killed by the ISIS following their abduction in 2014 will be brought back to India on Monday. Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd) V.K. Singh who left for Mosul on Sunday is expected to fly back with the bodies in an Indian Air Force Boeing C17 aircraft that can lift up to 70 tonnes of weight. Boeing C17 is the same aircraft that was used in 2015 to evacuate Indians from war-torn Yemen.
According to media reports, Singh will first land in Amritsar today where he would hand over the mortal remains of 27 people who belonged to Punjab and then head to Himachal where he would hand over the remains of four people. Then, we will go to Kolkata and Patna to handover the remaining bodies.
Meanwhile, authorities in Amritsar have made required arrangements to receive the bodies which are expected to arrive at around 1:30 PM, a senior official said.
“All necessary arrangements have been made to transport the mortal remains of 31 Indians killed in Iraq, who hail from different places in Punjab and Himachal to their native places when the bodies reach tomorrow,” Amritsar Deputy Commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha had said.
Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh has also appealed to protesters of Bharat Bandh to ensure that mortal remains of the Iraq victims, that are expected to arrive in Amritsar today, are allowed to be transported to their native villages without any impediment. The Punjab CM also directed police to provide strict security for the same.
Minister of State for External Affairs V. K. Singh, before leaving for Mosul on Sunday had informed that mortal remains of only 38 Indians will be brought back to India, as a case remains pending. “I am going to Mosul to get mortal remains of 38 Indians; we would not get one man’s remains as his case is still pending,” Singh told ANI.
“The Center will hand over the coffins of the victims to their kin with evidence so that they have no doubts,” Singh had informed further.
Last month, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had told Parliament that 40 Indians were abducted by ISIS from Mosul in Iraq in June 2014, but one of them escaped posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh. The remaining 39 were taken to Badoosh and killed, she had said.
Later addressing a press conference, Swaraj had said that she didn’t keep anyone in dark about the death of the 39 Indians. “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 and we did not keep anyone in dark. We have not given false hopes to anyone,” Swaraj had said. In July 2017, Sushma Swaraj had said that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.
She had also dismissed claims of Harjeet Massi, one of them who escaped from Mosul. “He was not willing to tell me how he escaped,” she said. The minister had said that she had concrete evidence that he was lying. Massi had escaped along with Bangladeshis with the help of a caterer with a fake name Ali.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that Sushma Swaraj and her deputy VK Singh had left “no stone unturned” in trying to trace and bring back the kidnapped Indians. “The MEA and particularly my colleagues Sushma Swaraj and General V K Singh left no stone unturned in trying to trace and safely bring back those we lost in Mosul. Our Government remains fully committed towards ensuring the safety of our sisters and brothers overseas,” the prime minister had said.