'Dead' for 40 years, POW is in Pak jail | india | Hindustan Times
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'Dead' for 40 years, POW is in Pak jail

india Updated: Apr 29, 2011 21:59 IST
Avtar Gondara
Avtar Gondara
Hindustan Times
Avtar Gondara

Four decades after being declared dead, BSF jawan Surjit Singh is reported to be alive and lodged in Pakistan's Kot Lakhpat jail.

During the 1971 India-Pakistan war, Surjit, a local resident, was caught by the Pakistan army and put in jail as a prisoner of war (POW). Subsequently, the Indian government declared him dead, said wife Angrej Kaur, 70.

After handing over the death certificate, the government granted family pension and other benefits to Angrej Kaur as Surjit's "widow".

After having lost all hope, she and her son, Amrik Singh, 39, have now set their sights on a reunion.

Eight years ago, they had met former POWs Khushi Mohammad of Malerkotla, Jagjit Singh of Kapurthala and Satish Kumar of Ferozepur, who had been released by the Pakistan government. The trio told them that Surjit was in Kotlakhpat jail.

Angrej Kaur made representations to the President, the Indian government and Pakistan Rangers, but the Pakistan government as well the home department kept denying Surjit's presence in any Pakistani jail.

Recently, Gopal Dass, released by Pakistan after 27 years of imprisonment, told the family that Surjit was lodged in a Pakistan jail. He, however, said POWs and spies were usually lodged by the Pakistani government in forts, not jails.

When Angrej Kaur and Amrik met Pakistan human rights activist and advocate Ansar Burney in New Delhi, he promised to trace Surjit. "Burney has now told us on the phone that he has met my father," said Amrik.

The mother and son met deputy commissioner Balwinder Singh on Friday and sought his help for Surjit's release. The DC promised to write to the central and state governments in this regard.