For over 40 years,between 1972 and 2012,the family of Indian Army soldier Mangal Singh who went missing in the 1971 Indo-Pak war and was later declared a martyr didnt hear a word about his whereabouts. Then one fine day last year,a Bulandhshahar resident returned to India from a Pakistan jail and said that Singh,alongwith a few Indian prisoners,was lodged in Lahores Kot Lakhpat Jail. Now,after Sarabjit Singh was assaulted in that very jail,Mangal Singhs family is a worried lot.
On September 26,2012,Mangal Singhs family first heard that he was alive and in jail from Rafi-u-Deen,who had an unofficial list of Indian prisoners lodged at Kot Lakhpat jail. The list mentioned the names of two soldiers Mangal Singh,who was a Naik in Indian Army in 1971,and Sepoy Ram Das of Amritsar. Both were declared martyrs during the 1971 war.
The soldiers went missing from the battle of Garibpur fought between Pakistan and Mukti Bahini and were part of the Indian armed forces that joined the Mukti Bahini on December 3,1971 during the Bangladesh liberation war. Mangal Singh went missing after his boat drowned during the war.
We fear that after what happened to Sarabjit,Pakistani jail officials may take revenge from other Indian prisoners and kill them too, said Satya Kaur,wife of Mangal Singh. She added that they had heard Mangal Singh on Pakistan radio in 1972 after he went missing. On radio,he had identified himself as Mangal Singh,took the name of our children and mentioned his Army service number. Somebody elses children could have similar names but the service number of soldiers is unique to each of them, she said.
After his radio announcement,neither did I ever hear him nor received any information about him.
He was declared a martyr and on November 27,1971,I was informed by the Army that my husband who was posted with 14 Punjab had died… I have been waiting for him since 1972 when I heard him on the Pakistani radio. My wait continues even after 40 years, Satya Kaur said.
Daljit Singh,elder son of Mangal Singh,said: Now,after the death of Sarabjit Singh,we are afraid about the fate of my father in Kot Lakhpat Jail.
The government must bring those back who have already completed their terms,otherwise they would be killed one by one in Pakistani jails two have already killed in past three months. Many prisoners who returned from Pakistan told that Indian prisoners were not treated well in Pakistani jails.
I visited Rafi-u-Deen in Bulandshahar. He said he didnt meet my father personally in jail as he spent only five days in Kot Lakhpat Jail. During his stay there,he was given a list of Indian prisoners lodged there though their sentences had been completed long back. This list included the name of Mangal Singh… We are sure that our father is alive as it cannot be coincidence my mother had also heard him on radio in 1972, he added.
Mangal Singh originally hails from Droli Kalna village near Adampur in Jalandhar. His family now resides in the Ramamandi area. Daljit was three years old and his younger brother Baljinder was one when Mangal Singh went missing.