Three months after DNA test of kin, no word on fate of men missing in Iraq
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Three months after DNA test of kin, no word on fate of men missing in Iraq

Hanging fire: 39 workers, most of them from Punjab, went missing in the war-torn country in 2014.

punjab Updated: Feb 14, 2018 10:26 IST
Surjit Singh
Surjit Singh
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
DNA test,men missing in Iraq,missing in Iraq
Doctors collecting blood samples of Ranjit Kaur. whose son Jatinder Singh is missing in Iraq, at the forensic lab of Government Medical College, Amritsar, on October 28.(HT File )

In apparent sad news and continued anxiety for people whose kin are missing in war-torn Iraq, there is no word ever since their DNA test samples were collected by the government three-and-a-half months ago to be able to identify the men if found, dead or alive.

Matter so far
  • June 15, 2014: Terror group IS captures Mosul city in Iraq where 39 Indian workers stayed; they lose touch with kin
  • July 9, 2017: With Iraqi forces freeing Mosul from IS, glimmer of hope emerges for families
  • Oct 18: Ministry of external affairs orders deputy commissioners of respective districts to collect DNA samples of the kin; two days later, families get phone calls from government officials for giving DNA samples
  • Oct 21: Families suffer at Government Medical College, Amritsar, as samples not taken due to non-availability of test kits
  • Oct 28: After kits made available, families give samples at the forensic lab of the medical college

The tests were conducted by the Union government, in collaboration with authorities in Iraq, after a fresh search was initiated to trace the 39 Indians (most of them Punjabis), who were kidnapped by the terror group Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq, three years ago. Hopes were heightened after Iraqi forces backed by the US recaptured Mosul.

Samples of members of nine families were collected at the forensic lab of Government Medical College here on October 28 last year. The process could not be completed due non-availability of test kits. As per the government’s directions, samples of three members of each family were collected at the college’s forensic lab by a seven-member team of experts. Each person gave two samples. One sample was sent to the forensic science laboratory in Mohali, and the other to Iraq.

“We have contacted the office of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) over phone six to seven times to know the status of the case. Every time, the person who picked up the call said there is no information so far,” said Gurpinder Kaur, sister of Manjinder Singh, a resident of Bhoe Wala village , who is one of the missing men. Gurpinder, who has been continuously raising this issue with the central government, said all the victim families are anxious to know what the Union government.

The Centre has been insisting that the men are not dead, though no other information is known.

Davinder Singh, brother of missing Gobinder Singh, a resident of Murar village, said, “I have made many attempts to get an appointment with external affairs minister Sushma Sawaraj, but in vain, as our pleas were declined by her personal secretary Satish Gupta.”

“Gupta took the stand that there is no use talking to the minister as she does not know the status. He said the MEA will inform us as soon as any new development takes place,” he added. Moreover, he said, they have been told by an official that DNA tests were conducted two months ago in Iraq.

Amritsar deputy commissioner Kamaldeep Singh Sangha also said he has no information in this case.

First Published: Feb 14, 2018 10:26 IST