Congress MP Shashi Tharoor today slammed the government for encouraging the families of the 39 Indians kidnapped in Iraq to believe they were alive, a charge countered by Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal who said it was important to verify the facts.
Sushma Swaraj told the Rajya Sabha that their bodies were spotted using deep penetration radar and their identities confirmed by DNA tests, she said. "We were not even told about it; we came to know from the TV", she added.
On Tuesday, Swaraj described Masih's version of events as "a cock-and-bull story", and said that he had escaped by claiming that he was a Muslim from Bangladesh.
"We are clueless about what we need to do. We have no idea how we can get hold of his body", he said.
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Malkit Ram, whose brother Saganandlal is one of the 39 deceased, said, "My brother went to Iraq in 2012 where he worked as a carpenter".
It was in June the same year that Sikdar's family heard his voice for the last time. Because we were not willing to give up on them. He sounded nervous and distraught.
Near-identical statements by other families have brought the official version under strain, made starker on the tragic day by a perception of grandstanding by a government that has often been accused of being obsessed with image management.
With their bread earner gone, the future now seems uncertain for Sikdar's family of four - wife, two daughters and his old and infirm mother.
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In the first days after Mosul was captured, their relatives back in India began to receive panicked phone calls, with the men begging for help. "It was the media which has reported his death", said a family member.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Tuesday informed the Rajya Sabha that the Indians who had been abducted by ISIS in Iraq, were dead.
In July a year ago, Swaraj firmly said in Parliament that she would not declare the 39 Indians dead without concrete proof or evidence.
"We want EAM to go and meet the families of the deceased and apologise to them publicly".
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"Our government did not want to declare them "Missing and Believed to be Killed", Sushma said. "Because we did not fall in line and did what they would have done".