Remains back; Rs 5 lakh relief, jobs

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Amritsar, April 2

The mortal remains of 38 of the 39 Indians killed in Iraq’s Mosul were brought back on Monday in a special aircraft and handed over to relatives. The aircraft carrying the caskets landed at the Amritsar international airport at 2.30 pm. Punjab Local Bodies Minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, who received the bodies of victims from Punjab, announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh and a job for the next of kin. Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh, who had left for Iraq on Sunday to bring back the bodies, told the media it was not possible to ascertain when they had been killed. “We were told it could be about a year ago.” Asked how they were killed, he replied some of them were killed by bullets.“No embassy had records of these persons, who had migrated through illegal agents,” the minister said, calling for strict action against fake travel agents. He claimed had they a clue about the Indians stuck in Iraq, they may have been rescued, like the Indian nurses in 2014.On jobs demanded by the victims’ families, the minister said the External Affairs Minister had already told them to provide detailed information about persons eligible for the same.Explaining how they had located the mound where the mortal remains were buried, he said: “…we were not allowed to go to Mosul through Erbil as the war was on. After talking to the company owner (in whose factory the Indians were working) and others, we got information that a lot of people were buried near a place in Badush near Mosul.“We found a mound. We sought a ground penetration radar and found human skeletons. Thereafter, digging was started. We found a kara (worn by Sikhs) and long hair. Thereafter, the bodies were exhumed and DNA samples matched.”The minister was all praise for the Martyrs Foundation in Iraq, which, he said, had worked hard to identify the remains. Iraq’s forensic experts had conducted the DNA tests on the exhumed bodies.Relatives stage dharna at airportDenied permission to open the caskets, grieving relatives of the deceased staged a dharna at the Amritsar airport. They were solaced by officials. “We were strictly told by the Iraqi authorities not to open the coffins as toxic gases could be harmful,” explained Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh.

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