Leaving no stone unturned, three families of 1971 prisoners of war on Saturday held a third presser in as many days to appeal to various authorities including central government to negotiate the release of their relatives, who were captured by Pakistani forces more than four decades ago.
“I still have that radio set through which my father was heard saying his address and family details to Pakistani authorities after being captured in 1971 war,” said Rajendra Kaur of Khyala Khurd village here in Mansa about her father Naik Bir Singh, who had gone ‘‘missing’’ since the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
Rajendra Kaur had recently returned from Amritsar after meeting relatives of other prisoners of war. Rajendra Kaur and her mother Surjit Kaur have been struggling for the last four decades to locate their father.
“During 1971 war, Bir Singh was captured by the enemy forces near Hussainiwala border in Ferozepur. Days later on a Pakistani radio channel I heard him announcing his address and family details. I informed the rest of my family but nobody took it seriously.”
The family had lost all the hopes till in 2012 they met one freed prisoner Satish Kumar from Ferozepur district, who had returned from Pakistan in 1986 after being imprisoned for at least 12 years. “Satish said that he has seen my husband in one of the prisons in Lahore. This rekindled our hope and we kept visiting Wagah border every time we heard of the exchange of prisoners taking place there.”
Besides Surjit Kaur, Baljinder Kaur of Tarn Taran district and Pal Kaur are also running from pillar to post, pleading authorities to get their father and husband respectively, freed and back to their home country.
The three women met each other earlier this month at Amritsar while attending the death anniversary of Sarbjit Singh, who died in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore after being attacked by his fellow inmates.
Baljinder Kaur claims that her father sepoy Balwinder Singh of the 10 Sikh Regiment, who fought 1971 war near Barmer border in Rajasthan, was declared dead by the army. However she got to know from some of the prisoners released from Pakistan jails that her father was still alive and languishing in one of the prisons across the border.
Similarly, Pal Kaur believes that her husband Dharampal Singh, who fought the war near Bangladesh border, was captured by the Pakistani forces and since then he had been languishing there in Lahore jail. His belief comes from the same source, Satish Kumar, who also gave the news to Rajendra Kaur about her father. These families have now planned to block the route of Samjhauta express and sit for a protest near Wagah border to demand the release of the relatives.