New Delhi has cleared a request from the US government to permit teams of the Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to visit Arunachal Pradesh and search for the remains of about 400 Americans who remain unaccounted since World War II.
In fact, specialised identification and recovery teams from the DPAA arrived in India on Sunday and are on the way to Arunachal Pradesh.
Most of these US air crew went missing after transport planes disappeared due to bad weather and difficult terrain, especially while crossing “The Hump” to enter Myanmar from the war bases in upper Assam.
An official in the US consulate in Kolkata said this will be the first recovery mission conducted by DPAA in Arunachal Pradesh since December 2009. “Remains of the majority of missing Americans are believed to be located in this area since the main air resupply route from India to China during World War II went over the Himalayas and was known as The Hump,” the official said.
“The recovery of the remains of missing US service members is a standalone humanitarian mission, underscoring the US Department of Defense’s commitment to the fullest possible accounting for servicemen from the nation’s past conflicts,” the official said. Over 83,000 Americans are said to be still missing from various conflicts worldwide, of whom about 400 are in India, mostly in Arunachal Pradesh, he added.
Meanwhile, Families and Supporters of America’s Arunachal Missing in Action, an organisation fighting for these search operations, has hailed New Delhi’s decision. It has, however, held India responsible for the delay. “Our organisation is pleased that the Indian government is finally honouring its obligations… to allow MIA recovery operations to proceed … after imposing an illegal, heartless, and totally unnecessary moratorium on crash site recoveries at the end of 2009,” Gary Zaetz, founder and chairman of the body said on Facebook.