DNA way to crack Mosul mystery

Uncertainty compounded: Relatives of the missing Indian workers at a church in Amritsar. File photo

Uncertainty compounded: Relatives of the missing Indian workers at a church in Amritsar. File photo   | Photo Credit: PTI

Blood samples of kin of 39 missing Indians are being collected to trace them

Following the liberation of the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State, India has intensified the search for 39 nationals who have been missing since 2014.

Speaking to The Hindu, a representative of the families of the missing men in Punjab said collection of family blood samples for DNA testing, possibly for matching with human remains from mass graves, had been going on, even as the External Affairs Ministry said the process was aimed at ruling out the possibility that the men were dead.

“Our families from Gurdaspur, Ludhiana and Jalandhar were called to the Tehsildar’s office and asked to donate blood samples for DNA matching. A few of our samples are yet to be collected and we have been asked to return next week,” said Gurpinder Kaur, speaking from Jalandhar explaining that the samples were likely to be taken to Iraq.

Increased resolve

However, an official source from the Ministry said the process of collecting blood samples from the families of the missing citizens began soon after External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj delivered a speech in the Lok Sabha on July 26 emphasising the government’s resolve to find out more about the missing men.

“Following the speech of the External Affairs Minister in July, where she had mentioned about DNA testing of remains, four States [West Bengal, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab] were asked to provide the DNA samples of the families of the missing. The DNA testing will be conducted with support from the Iraqi government with the aim to rule out the possibility that the men were killed in a massacre,” said an official source who maintained that the government was hopeful that they would be found alive.

The mass grave theory has been gaining ground soon after the men were kidnapped by the IS from Mosul in June 2014. A few months after the incident was first reported, one person, Harjeet Masih, returned from Iraq and claimed that he was part of the group and escaped with injuries while others were killed by the IS in a bloodbath.

Earlier this year, Foreign Minister of Iraq Ibrahim Al Jaafari had informed that the men could have been taken away to Syria.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 12:35:53 AM |

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