Video Editor: Vishal Kumar
Families of 38 Indians who were killed in Mosul, Iraq, perform last rites of the deceased with coffins carrying the remains of their loved ones. Deeply distraught families mourned their loss after a long wait of four years.
The mortal remains of 38 of the 39 Indians killed in war-torn Iraq were brought back on Monday, 2 April, in a special aircraft, and handed over to the relatives.
Officials asked the victims' families not to open the coffins since the mortal remains had been exhumed from graves and could emit toxic gases.
Out of the 39 people killed, 27 hailed from Punjab, four from Himachal Pradesh, six from Bihar and two from West Bengal.
The remains of one of the 39 Indians who were killed in Iraq were yet to be positively identified as DNA tests have provided only a 70 percent match.
Forty Indian construction workers were taken hostage by the ISIS in Mosul in 2014. While Harjeet Masih was the sole Indian who managed to escape, posing as a Muslim from Bangladesh, the others were reportedly killed by the terror group.
On behalf of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, state Tourism Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu announced that the families of the victims from Punjab would be given a grant of Rs 5 lakh each, and one member of their families will get a government job depending on their qualification.
The families of the victims are being given a monthly pension of Rs 20,000 by the government.
The chief minister has requested the central government to give some ex-gratia and jobs to the families since the incident happened on foreign soil. This is not the time for politics. This is the time to behave like ‘Hindustani’ and share the burden. The void can’t be filled but we can send signals that we stand with them as extended families.Navjot Singh Sidhu, Tourism Minister, Punjab
On being asked how they were killed, VK Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs and a former Army chief, said some of the people were killed by bullets.
"When tests were conducted (on mortal remains) it was found that some persons were killed by bullets and however, in some cases, it is very difficult to say as to how they were killed", he said.
Singh also claimed that the 40 Indians captured by the terror group ISIS in Iraq in 2014, had gone there through illegal travel agents.
The External Affairs Ministry started a campaign in 2014 in which we say that one must not go through an illegal agent. There was no record of these 40 persons in any embassy. They migrated through illegal agents. When you go through illegal agents then it is difficult to find where one has gone.VK Singh, MoS, External Affairs
Singh emphasised that both the state and central governments should work collectively to ensure the gullible people do not fall prey to illegal travel agents.
To a question on jobs as demanded by the family members of the victims, the minister said the union external affairs minister had already told the family members to provide detailed information about persons who are eligible for jobs.
(With inputs from PTI)