- DNAs of 38 Indians matched with remains of bodies found in a mass grave
- We used a deep penetration satellite to see a mass grave: Sushma Swaraj
- The Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, were taken hostage in 2014
Opposition allegations exploded after the revelation; the Congress accused the government of giving the Indians' families false hope and misleading the nation. Last year, Sushma Swaraj had told parliament that until evidence suggested otherwise, the workers would be presumed alive.
The minister said in the Rajya Sabha it was confirmed yesterday that the DNA of 38 had matched remains found underneath a mound, one of many in and around Mosul and Badush after their liberation from ISIS. One body was a 70 per cent match.
"It was a most difficult task to get the proof. It was a pile of bodies. To track down the bodies of our people and to take them to Baghdad for DNA tests was a huge task," she informed, commending her junior, Minister of State VK Singh, for supervising the challenging job.
Congress lawmaker Ghulam Nabi Azad reminded Ms Swaraj that she had "assured us last year that the Indians were alive".
"We never misled anyone. We said unless we have evidence, we cannot declare them dead," said Mr Singh.
The Indian construction workers, who were from Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Bengal, were taken hostage when the ISIS invaded Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in 2014. The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were caught.
Harjit Masih, the escaped Indian, claimed that he saw his compatriots executed but the government rejected it.
"For four years, the minister had told me that they were alive, I don't know what to believe anymore," said Gurpinder Kaur, sister of Manjinder Singh, one of the men killed in Iraq.
Ms Kaur questioned why the minister didn't inform the families before making her statement in parliament. Ms Swaraj told reporters: "I was duty-bound to inform parliament first."
More than 10,000 Indians fled Iraq at the height of ISIS violence in 2014. These included nurses held captive by the ISIS in Tikrit and Mosul before being allowed to return home.
Get the latest election news, live updates and election schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on ndtv.com/elections. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram for updates from each of the 543 parliamentary seats for the 2019 Indian general elections.