Presumed dead in the 1971 Indo-Pak war,Sepoy Jaspal Singh is reportedly alive and at present lodged in a jail in Oman.
A carpenter,Sukhdev Singh,who recently returned from Oman,claims to have met Jaspal Singh in the Masira Island jail. Sukhdev worked in the jail kitchen for 10 days. Sukhdevs claims have given hope to Jaspals family,which is now making efforts to get in touch with him.
Sukhdev,a resident of Dubri,Boormajra in Chamkaur Sahib,said Jaspal approached him after recognizing him as a Punjabi. We got talking and he asked me about my village. He also asked me about some of his relatives whom I knew. Jaspal told me that he was captured on December 4 from Ferozepur border. He and five other prisoners of war (PoWs) were kept in a Pakistan jail and some six years later shipped to Oman, Sukhdev said.
Talking about Jaspal,Sukhdev said that he is now 70 years old bust maintains good health. Meeting Jaspal was a chance encounter. He told me there was one more prisoner who was from the regiment. Two others were shifted a few years back, Sukhdev said.
Jaspal reportedly belonged to 15 Punjab Regiment. His family has now approached Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell to get in touch with Jaspal. An application has also been moved with Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh. The family also claims to have approached Shiromani Akali Dal leader Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.
Jaspals wife Baljit Kaur,65,said she often communicated with the wives of other missing soldiers but never received any reports about her husband being alive. We presumed he was dead and accepted this as fate, she said.
Jaspals son Kamaljit Singh was three when he went missing. I do not remember much about my father. The news was so unexpected. Since then we have approached all authorities seeking help to get in touch with my father. These have not borne any fruit till now, he said.
Meanwhile,president of the Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell,Lt Col (Retd) S S Sohi said they have verified Sukhdevs story from Commanding Officer of 15 Punjab Regiment,Lt Col A S Cheema who confirmed that there was an attack on the regiment at Hussainiwala Border on December 3,1971. Three officers,JCOs and ORs had gone missing or were reported killed. Sohi says that there could be other POWs lodged in different places and the government should take action to trace them.