Authorities in Punjab yesterday collected the DNA samples of members of some families of 39 Indians who went missing in Iraq’s Mosul in June 2014 after the town fell into the hands of Islamic State terror group.
The DNA samples of at least three members of each of the eight families from Amritsar district were collected by a team of doctors of the Government Medical College in Amritsar.
The Ministry of External Affairs had recently asked the state government to collect the DNA samples so that these could be sent to Iraq for the authorities there to verify the whereabouts of the 39 missing Indians.
With no word from the central government or Iraqi authorities on whether the missing men were still alive, the distraught families, who have been hoping to hear about the well-being of the missing relatives, yesterday indicated that much of their hopes of seeing their loved ones again were dashed.
“We have come here for the second time. No one is telling us anything about our loved ones,” said Sardara Singh, 70, the father of a missing man from Amritsar district.
Members of other families said that they had no idea why the samples were being collected.
“No one from the administration is telling us why the DNA samples are being collected,” said a woman relative of one of the missing men.
After Mosul was freed from the IS in July this year, there was hope that the missing Indians would be found.
However, Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, during his India visit in July, said he was not sure if the missing Indians were alive or not. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had earlier assured the families, who have met her several times, that all efforts were being made to trace them.
The affected families, who are all from poor backgrounds mostly from rural areas of Punjab, say they can do nothing else but pin hope on the assurances of the government and the minister. A man from Punjab, Harjit Masih, who escaped from the clutches of IS in June 2014 had claimed that all 39 Indians had been killed. However, Swaraj has maintained that there was no information confirming their deaths.
Doctors collect blood samples of family members of Punjabi men who went missing in Iraq, in Amritsar yesterday.