Priyanka Chopra arrived for the royal wedding in London one day in advance.

An aging airliner crashed Friday shortly after takeoff on a domestic flight in Cuba, officials and Cuban news media reported, leaving more than 100 people dead in an accident that highlighted the precarious state of the country's commercial aircraft fleet.

The 39 Indians missing in Iraq since they were kidnapped by the terror outfit ISIS four years ago have been confirmed dead after their bodies were found, Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said in parliament today. "With full proof I can say these 39 are dead. We wanted to give the families closure only after concrete proof," she said.

Opposition allegations exploded after the revelation; the Congress accused the government of giving the Indians' families false hope and misleading the nation. Last year, Sushma Swaraj had told parliament that until evidence suggested otherwise, the workers would be presumed alive.

The minister said in the Rajya Sabha it was confirmed yesterday that the DNA of 38 had matched remains found underneath a mound, one of many in and around Mosul and Badush after their liberation from ISIS. One body was a 70 per cent match.

"We used a deep penetration satellite... It had exactly 39 bodies with distinctive features like long hair, non-Iraqi shoes and IDs," Ms Swaraj said.

"It was a most difficult task to get the proof. It was a pile of bodies. To track down the bodies of our people and to take them to Baghdad for DNA tests was a huge task," she informed, commending her junior, Minister of State VK Singh, for supervising the challenging job.

Congress lawmaker Ghulam Nabi Azad reminded Ms Swaraj that she had "assured us last year that the Indians were alive".

"We never misled anyone. We said unless we have evidence, we cannot declare them dead," said Mr Singh.

The Indian construction workers, who were from Punjab, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and Bengal, were taken hostage when the ISIS overran Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, in 2014. The workers were trying to leave Mosul when they were caught.

One of them, Harjit Masih from Punjab's Gurdaspur, managed to escape after posing as a Muslim.

Last year, Ms Swaraj had told the families of the workers that an Iraqi official had told Mr Singh the Indians were made to work at a hospital construction site and then shifted to a farm before they were thrown into a jail in Badush.

Harjit Masih, the escaped Indian, claimed that he saw his compatriots executed but the government rejected it.

"For four years, the minister had told me that they were alive, I don't know what to believe anymore," said Gurpinder Kaur, sister of Manjinder Singh, one of the men killed in Iraq.

Ms Kaur said she had been waiting to speak to the minister but then heard her statement in parliament

More than 10,000 Indians fled Iraq at the height of ISIS violence in 2014. These included nurses held captive by the ISIS in Tikrit and Mosul before being allowed to return home.

India regained the status of the world's fastest-growing major economy in the October-December quarter, driven by higher government spending and a pick-up in manufacturing and services. Gross domestic product or GDP grew 7.2 per cent in in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, according to government data released today. The growth rate is higher than what the Street had expected. A Reuters poll of more than 35 economists estimated the economy to grow 6.9 per cent in the October-December quarter. China had recorded a growth of 6.8 per cent in the December quarter.

India's GDP or gross domestic product growth had fallen to a three-year low of 5.7 per cent in the April-June quarter due to destocking in the run-up to the July 1 launch of the goods and services tax (GST) and a lingering impact of demonetisation. But in July-September quarter, the economic growth picked up to a revised 6.5 per cent annually, a return to a faster growth trajectory after five consecutive quarters of slowdown.

Meanwhile, for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2018, the government revised its GDP growth forecast higher to 6.6 per cent from 6.5 per cent earlier.

Separately, infrastructure output grew by a strong 6.7 per cent in January from a year ago, government data showed today. The growth in output compares with an upwardly revised 4.2 per cent year-on-year growth in December. Infrastructure output, which comprises eight sectors such as coal, crude oil and electricity, accounts for nearly 40 per cent of industrial output.

Economists widely expect India's GDP growth to accelerate further this year. Moody's Investors Service estimates India to grow at 7.6 per cent in calendar year 2018 and 7.5 per cent in 2019, amid signs of economic recovery from impact of demonetisation and GST.

The International Monetary Fund projects India's GDP to grow at 7.4 per cent in 2018 as against China's 6.8 per cent. The IMF's update, released last month, projects a 7.8 per cent growth rate for India in 2019.

GENEVA:  Maldives will seek help from other countries to investigate judges suspected of taking bribes and "hijacking" the Supreme Court to drag the island nation into political crisis, a senior Maldives diplomat told Reuters in an interview.

NEW DELHI:  Iran's President Hassan Rouhani was greeted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Ram Nath Kovind today on the last of his three-day visit of the country.

Chief Editor: Gurcharan Singh Babbar
Associate Editor: Rajesh Mangal

Corporate Office:

Bahadurshah Zafar Marg
ITO, New Delhi-110002

Phone: 9312262300


Subscribe Newsletter

Go to top