FAMILY MEMBERS of two Indian soldiers, who are reportedly lodged in Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat jail since the 1971 war, have once again asked the central government to take up their matter with Pakistan, after an Indian prisoner there died Monday under mysterious circumstances.
India has asked its envoy in Pakistan to take up at the “highest possible level” with their foreign office the issue of early transportation of the mortal remains of Kirpal Singh, who the neighbouring government claims died “due to heart failure”.
Families of Mangal Singh, a Naik posted with 14 Punjab regiment, and Ram Das, a Sepoy with 94 field artillery regiment, say they fear that the two soldiers could meet the “same fate” as Kirpal and want the Centre to enquire from Pakistan about the “current mental status” of the two soldiers.
“After Sarabjit, it is now Kirpal who has died under mysterious circumstances and the same may happen to Mangal Singh and Ram Das,” members from both the families told The Indian Express.
The two families had lived for 40 years believing that the soldiers were dead, as the Indian government had declared them “martyrs” after they went missing during the 1971 war.
Shortly after the soldiers had gone missing, the two families had first heard about them being alive in 1972, on Pakistan radio. Both the soldiers had reportedly identified themselves in a programme, claims Satya Kaur, the wife of Mangal Singh.
“We didn’t hear anything about them again until September 26, 2012, when Pakistan released an Indian prisoner Rafi-u-Deen (of Bulandshahr). He had given an unofficial list of Indian prisoners lodged in the (Kot Lakhpat) jail there. My father’s name was on that list,” said Shiv Kumar, son of Ram Das.
Shiv, a head constable in Punjab Police whose family moved to Amritsar from Gurdaspur, said his father has been a prisoner of war (POW) for 40 years and it is time the Indian government raised the matter with Pakistan.
“We have contacted all government channels but nothing has moved so far. We have received help from Pakistan-based social activist Jas Uppal, from whom we learned that my father is not mentally stable,” said Shiv. He added that the Indian government must take up the matter with Pakistan government so that they could learn about the soldiers’ “current status”.
The government must bring back those who have already completed their terms otherwise they would all die under mysterious circumstances, said Satya.
The families’ last communication to the Union Home Ministry in November 2015 was forwarded to the Punjab Police but “no action has been taken so far”. The families say they will again write to the Centre later this week.