New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the death of 39 Indians in Iraq and said that the government stands in solidarity with the bereaved families. Sushma Swaraj had earlier in the day made a statement in Rajya Sabha declaring that the 39 Indians kidnapped in Iraq by ISIS were confirmed to be dead. Protests by opposition members halted her while she tried to make the statement in Lok Sabha later on. Sushma Swaraj said that through the use of deep penetration radar, India found a mass grave where 39 bodies were found. She said that the DNA of 38 bodies matched while one body showed a 70 per cent match.
Here are the highlights from Sushma Swaraj's speech:
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed grief over the death of 39 Indians in Mosul. "Every Indian grieves with those who lost their loved ones in Mosul. We stand in solidarity with the bereaved families and pay our respects to the Indians killed in Mosul," he said.
On Harjit Masih, who had claimed that he saw the 39 people being killed, Sushma Swaraj said that he is a person and they are a government and that a government cannot stop their efforts to search for the missing people based on one person's words.
"As per my estimate, India is the first country to be bringing back all the dead bodies, excluding the one which has not been identified yet," she said.
"I can understand the anger of families, I see it as a natural reaction. But I'd like to say that I have never kept them in the dark," she said.
Of those who died, Ms Swaraj said 7 were from Punjab, 4 from Himachal, 6 from Bihar and 2 from West Bengal. The other bodies, she said, are yet to be identified.
"I said in 2014 that I had no evidence, said the same in 2017. This wasn't a falsehood, it was a tireless effort," Sushma Swaraj said.
"It would have been a sin to declare them dead without proper evidence," she said.
Sushma Swaraj says she had the same stand on the issue for three years and that she did not keep anyone in the dark or give fake assurances.
"We got in touch with all four states and collected DNA samples from them to send them to martyrs foundation," the External Affairs Minister said.
"Duty-bound to tell Parliament first": Sushma Swaraj on why families of 39 Indians killed in Iraq weren't informed first.
"It is the duty of any responsible government to not declare anyone dead without confirmation. I have said earlier that I won't declare them dead without evidence, and won't wait for a even a day once it's confirmed," Sushma Swaraj said.
"Are we going to play politics over dead bodies? I want to ask the Congress, why did they disrupt the House today?" Ms Swaraj said.
"I went to Lok Sabha with a heavy heart today and came out even more disappointed," Sushma Swaraj says in a press conference after her speech was disrupted.
The Speaker says that the house has received notices of no-confidence motion against the government but she will not take up the notices till there is silence in the house.
While the foreign minister was allowed to make her statement in Rajya Sabha, she has to speak through protests in Lok Sabha.
The Speaker asks protesters to allow Ms Swaraj to make her statements.
Sushma Swaraj makes the statemnt on the 39 Indians killed in Iraq by ISIS in Lok Sabha, shortly after making the same statement in Rajya Sabha.
Telugu Desam Party MPs protest demanding special status for Andhra Pradesh in the premises of the parliament.
Sushma Swaraj met with the family members of the Indians who were kidnapped by ISIS in Iraq last month
DNA samples of 38 people matched and that of the 39th person has matched 70 per cent. She said that their mortal remains have been sent to Baghdad.
Ms Swaraj said that India used a deep penetration satellite to see a mass grave. She also said that India requested that the bodies be brought out and exhumed.
The group of Indian labourers, mostly from Punjab, 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.