The government is awaiting a nod from Baghdad ambassador, for Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh to fly to Iraq to bring the mortal remains of Indians, who were killed by ISIS in Mosul.
Singh has confirmed that he will fly to Iraq soon after the nod in a C-17 plane to bring back the mortal remains of 39 Indians. “As soon as we get a nod from Baghdad ambassador, we will leave with a C-17 plane to bring back the mortal remains with due honours,” he said.
The minister further confirmed that the mortal remains of all Indians would be handed over to their families, who are in different states in India. “We will hand over the mortal remains to their families. They won't have to come to the airport,” said the former Army chief.
According to earlier reports, Singh is slated to leave for Iraq on April 1, Sunday.
This comes even as the Congress party has moved a privilege motion against External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Singh saying they "deliberately misled" the families of the 39 Indians.
Making a statement on the issue in Lok Sabha recently, Sushma Swaraj had hailed the role of VK Singh in ascertaining the identity of the Indians who got killed in Iraq. She had made a special mention of him while addressing Parliament.
"Mortal remains were sent to Baghdad. For verification of bodies, the DNA samples of their relatives were sent there and four state governments - Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, West Bengal and Bihar - were involved in this," she had further said.
Sushma Swaraj had also told the House that when VK Singh would return from Iraq with the mortal remains, the plane would first go to Amritsar, then to Patna and then to Kolkata.
A group of Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, Bihar and Himachal, was taken hostage by ISIS when it overran Iraq's second largest city Mosul in 2014.
The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were intercepted and taken hostage by the ISIS fighters.
One of the captured Indians, Harjit Masih from Gurdaspur, had managed to escape and claimed to have witnessed the massacre of the others.
The Government of India (GoI) rejected his claim and maintained that all efforts were on to find the missing Indians and, without any credible information, the workers would be considered alive.
The GoI had even asked Iraq for help in locating the missing Indians after Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS.
The government in Iraq too had earlier expressed its inability to confirm if Indians taken hostage by the ISIS in Mosul three years ago were alive or dead.
(With agency inputs)