New Delhi, March 20: Accusing the Congress of playing politics over the death of 39 Indians in Iraq, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday slammed the main Opposition party for leading the sloganeering in Lok Sabha when she was informing the nation about the fate of the Indian citizens who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul in 2014.Also Read - Sushma Swaraj's Statue to be Installed in Vidisha: MP CM on Former EAM's Birth Anniversary
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Swaraj called Congress’ attitude as shocking while slamming party MP Jyotiraditya Scindia in particular for leading the Opposition’s protest inside Lok Sabha. (List of 39 Indians Killed in Iraq’s Mosul by ISIS) Also Read - Twin Suicide Attack Kills 23, Injures Over 50 in Central Baghdad Market
Asserting that the government did its best to rescue, locate the missing Indians in Iraq, the minister said Indian authorities had to wait till Mosul’s liberation to carry out a detailed investigation. She also denied accusations by the Congress and other Opposition parties of misleading the country. (Also Read: 39 Indians Killed in Iraq: Government Gave us False Hopes, Say Family Members) Also Read - Amid US Capitol Riot, Iraq Court Issues Arrest Warrant Against Trump For Killing of Iranian General Soleimani
“I haven’t misled the country. Getting DNA samples was a long and difficult process. Bodies had to be exhumed. We waited for DNA match before announcing the grim news. I can understand the anger of families, I see it as a natural reaction. But I would like to say that I never kept them in the dark,” Swaraj said. “I had said this earlier too…I won’t declare them dead without evidence,” she added while defending the Modi government which has come under intense attack from all sides for not informing the affected families before making a statement in Parliament.
Earlier speaking in Rajya Sabha, the minister confirmed that the 39 Indians have been killed in Iraq and said the mortal remains will be brought back to India by Union Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh.
“General VK Singh will go to Iraq to bring back the mortal remains of the Indians killed in Iraq. The plane carrying the mortal remains will first reach Amritsar, then Patna and then go to Kolkata,” Sushma Swaraj said. (Also Read: I Told The Truth That 39 Indians Were Killed: Mosul Survivor)
She said the bodies were spotted using deep penetration radar and were exhumed from mass graves. Their identities were confirmed by DNA tests.
“The bodies were brought to Baghdad for DNA testing. The DNA of 38 Indians have been matched. For verification of the bodies, DNA samples of their relatives were sent there. Four state governments — Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar — were involved in the process,” the minister said.