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Sushma Swaraj on deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq: 'Kept no one in dark, followed protocol by informing Parliament first'

She also accused the Congress of indulging in ‘cheap politics’ by disrupting proceedings in the Lok Sabha when she was to make a statement on the deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq.

Edited by: India TV Politics Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: March 20, 2018 19:32 IST ]
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses a press
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj addresses a press conference over the death of 39 Indians who were killed in Iraq, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said that she informed the Parliament first before the families over deaths of 39 Indians as per the protocol.

Addressing the media here, Swaraj said that she had not kept anyone in dark and that it was not falsehood but tireless effort.

"It was my duty to first inform the House about (it)," Swaraj said.

"I never gave any false hope to anyone. I was not involved in any falsehood... she said, referring to her statements in Parliament in 2014 and 2017. I had very clearly said that I will declare them dead if I get conclusive proof. I kept my word. I will get my closure when the families receive the bodies," she added. 

She also accused the Congress of indulging in ‘cheap politics’ by disrupting proceedings in the Lok Sabha when she was to make a statement on the deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq.

Swaraj said that ‘no government can declare anyone dead without proof’. She added that her government does not believe in the theory of ‘missing, believed to be killed’.

Also Read: PM Modi on deaths of 39 Indians in Iraq: 'Indians stand by families of those killed in Mosul'

"Congress must explain why it disrupted proceedings in the Lok Sabha when I was to give details on the deaths of 39 people in Iraq," Swaraj said.

"In Rajya Sabha, everyone listened to me patiently. I thought the same would happen in Lok Sabha. However, the Congress led the disruptions under Jyotiraditya Scindia ji. The Congress indulged in very cheap level of politics and crossed the limit. Will we indulge in politics over death as well," she added.

List of 39 Indians killed by ISIS in Iraq 

India Tv - List of 39 Indians killed by ISIS in Iraq

List of 39 Indians killed by ISIS in Iraq

India was probably the first country which had managed to bring back all the bodies of its citizens from war-torn Iraq, she said. 

The effort the government had put in to get the concrete details of the 39 Indians had never been made in the country, the minister asserted. 

Also Read: Govt says bodies of 39 Indians abducted in Iraq found, local inquiries led to mass grave in Mosul from where bodies were exhumed

Swaraj did not give a direct reply to the volley of questions on when the Indians were killed, saying it was irrelevant as the bodies could have been recovered only after Mosul was liberated from the ISIS. Mosul city was liberated from ISIS in June last year. 

Swaraj also dismissed as baseless allegations that Harjit Masih of Gurdaspur, who had managed to escape the kidnappers, was harassed by the government. Masih had been claiming that he had witnessed the massacre of the 39 Indians.

Asked whether the government would consider compensation to the families of the victims, Swaraj said she would talk to the concerned state governments. 

The minister said she has directed the Indian envoy in Iraq to impress upon the Iraqi authorities to expedite the process to hand over the bodies to India. 

The first person whose death was confirmed through DNA matching was a person called Sandeep. She said the 39th person whose DNA matched only 70 per cent had lost his parents and matching was done with his other family members. 

"The Martyr Foundation does not declared anyone as confirmed death if the DNA matching is not 98 per cent," she said. 

Iraq's Martyr Foundation, which was handling the issue of the 39 Indians, also held a press conference in Baghdad.

Watch video: Sushma Swaraj addresses media in New Delhi 

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