All her life Dr Simmi Warraich has believed, amid ambiguity, that her father Major SPS Warraich was a Prisoner of War (PoW) languishing in a Pakistani jail after his capture in the 1971 war. Now, a book written by a retired Pakistan Army officer whose battalion fought in the same battle as Major Warraich, has cleared the air, revealing that he was indeed taken prisoner, but died shortly thereafter.
Dr Warraich, a campaigner for the 54 Indian Army and Air Force personnel missing since the war, says she has got a sense of closure from the book, written by Lt Col Habib Ahmed (retd), former Commanding Officer of 41 Baloch.
Lt Col Ahmed details in his book — The Battle of Hussainiwala and Qaisar-i-Hind — his battalion’s attack on the positions of the Indian Army’s 15 Punjab battalion in Ferozepur sector, where Major Warraich was a company commander.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Dr Warraich said that the revelations in the book have brought her some peace, since she finally knows what had happened to her father. “There had been some ambiguity about what really happened to him with there being some reports that he had been injured after being bayonetted as a prisoner.
However, this is the most detailed account which has come forth till date,” she said.
Lt Col Ahmad’s account states: “Safdar’s men got hold of an enemy Sikh officer of the rank of Major, named S P S Warraich. He was immediately taken prisoner by Havildar Khizar but, unfortunately, a machine gun burst from the direction of the railway bandh downed the Major”.
Lt Col Ahmad also says that he was asked about the Major’s fate by an officer from Pakistan Army’s Military Operations Directorate, following a query by then Indian Army chief Gen SHFJ Manekshaw, and that he told him that the officer was shot in a hail of Indian gunfire.
Dr Warraich had travelled to Pakistan, along with families of other PoWs to find details about her father, but had failed.
“I believe that a ‘missing in action’ cell needs to be put in place to search for all those who are unaccounted for in battle. There is a committee at present but it meets once in six months and nothing has come out of its efforts,” she said. She added that there were other families too who needed to know what happened to their loved ones.
G S Gill, Honourary Secretary of the Missing Defence Personnel Relatives Association, whose brother, Wing Commander H S Gill, also figures in the list of 54 PoW, said it was good that Dr Warraich’s family was satisfied with the events narrated in the book. “After almost 45 years, some kind of information is welcome. Nothing has happened all these years and we have reached a dead end,” he said.