Fam­i­lies of 1971 pris­on­ers of war seek their re­lease

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - PUNJABHARYANA - HT Cor­re­spon­dent let­ter­schd@hin­dus­tan­times.com

AM­RIT­SAR: “I don’t want a gov­ern­ment job or any other ben­e­fits, my only wish is to see my fa­ther back home,” said Baljin­der Kaur, whose fa­ther se­poy Bal­winder Singh of the 10 Sikh Reg­i­ment had gone miss­ing in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence or­gan­ised by the United Ex-ser­vice­men Front for the re­lease of the pris­on­ers of war (PoW) lan­guish­ing in Pak­istan jails, here on Thurs­day, Baljin­der said: My fa­ther was de­clared dead on De­cem­ber 16, 1971, but we come to know re­cently that he is alive. A war pris­oner, Sur­jeet Singh, who was re­leased by the Pak­istan author­i­ties in 2012, had made this an­nounce­ment at Chaba vil­lage near Am­rit­sar. But we didn’t get this in­for­ma­tion at that time as we live in far-off Chamba Kalan vil­lage in Tarn Taran district.”

“My fa­ther was de­clared dead on De­cem­ber 16, 1971, but we come to know re­cently that he is alive. A war pris­oner, Sur­jeet Singh, who was re­leased by the Pak­istan author­i­ties in 2012, had made this

an­nounce­ment at his vil­lage. But we didn’t get this in­for­ma­tion at that time as we live in far-off Chamba Kalan vil­lage in Tarn Taran district.”

Chair­man of the front cap­tain CS Sidhu (retd) said: “The In­dian gov­ern­ment should step up ef­forts to en­sure re­lease of pris­on­ers of war. If the gov­ern­ment fails to do so, we will block the At­tari-Wa­gah bor­der in July and stop trade bus and train ser­vices be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan.”

“There are many war pris­on­ers from Pak­istan in our jails too and

their fam­i­lies are also suf­fer­ing,” he added.

The front has writ­ten to de­fence min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar seek­ing re­lease of Bal­winder, who ac­cord­ing to Sur­jeet is lodged in La­hore’s Kot Lakh­pat jail.

Ar­shin­der Singh, son of an­other pris­oner of war hav­il­dar Dharam­pal Singh, said “We re­cently came to know that he is alive. We want him back.”

Baljin­der claimed that nayak Bir Singh of the 15 Sikh Reg­i­ment from a vil­lage in Mansa was also lan­guish­ing in the La­hore jail.

SAMEER SEHGAL /HT

United Ex-ser­vice­men Front chief Capt CS Sidhu (retd) with Baljin­der Kaur, whose fa­ther is lan­guish­ing in the La­hore jail, at a press con­fer­ence in Am­rit­sar on Thurs­day.

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