The Congress today accused the NDA government of being "insensitive" towards the families of 39 Indians killed in Iraq, and charged External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj with "playing politics" on the matter.
Party president Rahul Gandhi expressed shock and his deepest condolences at the killings of the Indians.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Surjewala said the Modi government has "crossed all limits of insensitivity" as it preferred to make the announcement on television rather than calling up every families and informing them individually.
"The Modi government has crossed all limits of insensitivity. The Indian government had on seven occasions told the families of the 39 Indians kidnapped by ISIS in Iraq that they were alive. The question is why did the Modi government mislead the nation and the family members of those Indians kidnapped by ISIS," he told reporters.
The Congress leader said that if the government had some humanity left, Swaraj should visit each family. The government should also grant adequate compensation and an honourable funeral, as it has been keeping the families of the killed in the dark and has given them false hopes.
"At least there should not have been politics on the death of these Indians. Unfortunately, the Modi government is doing politics on this which is condemnable," Surjewala said.
The Congress leader also claimed that the government hurriedly made the announcement as it feared being "exposed" by an Iraqi group called Martyrs Foundation.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor questioned why the government gave false hopes to the nation for three-and-a-half years, which he termed as "cruel" and hat smacked of "lack of transparency" in this government.
"But why did the Govt give false hope to the nation for three and a half years that the people were still alive? That was disappointing behaviour," he asked.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, "I'm shocked to hear that 39 Indians who were in captivity since 2014, in Iraq, are now confirmed dead. My deepest condolences to the families of those who have lived in hope, that their loved ones will return unharmed. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you today."
Adding that the entire country was sad, Azad said the Ministry of External Affairs had forcefully asserted in Parliament last year that they were alive but was now saying they were dead.
A group of 40 Indian workers, mostly from Punjab, were taken hostage by ISIS when it overran Iraq's second largest city Mosul in 2014.
One of them escaped by posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in a statement in Rajya Sabha. The other 39 are dead and their bodies have been recovered, she said.
While it was not immediately known when the Indians were killed, their bodies were recovered from Badosh, a village northwest of Mosul, and their identities established through DNA testing, she said.
The mortal remains, which were exhumed from a mass grave in Badosh, will be brought back to India on a special plane and handed over to their relatives, she said.
"I had said that I will not declare anyone dead without substantive proof... today I have come to fulfil that commitment," she said.