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39 Indians abducted by Islamic State dead: Punjab leaders mourn deaths, say Centre delayed news

All the 39 Indians abducted by Islamic State in Iraq’s Mosul in 2014 were dead, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, dashing hopes of families that were desperately hoping for their safe return.

punjab Updated: Mar 20, 2018 13:35 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab leaders,Indians abducted by Islamic State,Islamic State
Seema Devi, wife of Sonu, resident of Chawinda Devi village. Sonu was among those who died in Iraq. “Government kept on making promises to us,” she said. (HT Photo)

“Shattered at the heart-wrenching news… My heart goes out to the families who had been living in hope since their reported abduction by ISIS in 2014.” That is how Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh reacted to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s statement confirming the death of 39 Indians, most of them Punjabis, who had gone missing in Iraq in 2014.

The news was received with dismay in the Punjab Assembly, which is in session today. Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira from Aam Aadmi Party slammed the Centre and Punjab Government for mishandling the situation.

He demanded that the state government offer a job to the next of kin of the deceased besides sanctioning an ex-gratia of 3 lakh to each family.

Speaking to reporters, Amarinder said, “We had expected this, it should have been announced earlier, it was known since much earlier.”

Former deputy chief minister Sukhbir Badal also tweeted his condolences to the family. “Deeply pained to hear the heart-wrenching news about 39 Indians reportedly abducted by ISIS in Iraq, being dead. Mostly Punjabis, hope of their families to see them alive has vanished. In this hour of shock & grief I am with the families and pray for the departed souls.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Swaraj told Rajya Sabha that a deep penetration radar had confirmed the death of the hostages who had been taken from Mosul. Their mortal remains were exhumed and sent to Iraq’s capital Baghdad for DNA sample verification.

“Yesterday, we got information that DNA samples of 38 people have matched and DNA of the 39th person has matched 70 percent,” she said.

Meanwhile, speaking to ANI in New Delhi, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor asked, “Why was this information delayed by the government, they should tell how it happened, when they died. Also, the way government gave high hopes to the families was not right.”

Must read | How lone survivor Harjit Masih escaped from the clutches of Islamic State in Iraq

(With agency input)

First Published: Mar 20, 2018 13:35 IST