In Pakistan jail for 32 years, this Rajasthan man finally has a shot at freedom
Laxmi was 18 when her husband strayed across the frontier and was captured in 1985. He was a cattle grazer in Gohad Ka Tala, a village close to the India-Pakistan border.india Updated: Sep 08, 2017 20:39 IST
Like many other married woman in Rajasthan’s Barmer district, Laxmi Singh religiously dabs vermillion on her head every morning and prays for her husband’s safety. But there’s one crucial difference: Her husband Bhagu Singh has been languishing in a Pakistani jail for three decades.
Laxmi was 28 when her husband strayed across the frontier and was captured in 1985. He was a cattle grazer in Gohad Ka Tala, a village close to the India-Pakistan border, and the frontier wasn’t fenced then. He’s been in jail in the neighbouring country ever since, a victim of mounting hostilities between the two countries.
The issue came to light during the border fencing in 1991 when activist Bhuvensh Jain conducted a survey and found that 10 people from Barmer and Jaisalmer were lodged in Pakistani jails.
In this time, Laxmi has raised three children, and has knocked the doors of many politicians, government officials and social activists and written numerous letters – all to no avail.
But for the first time in years, she has a ray of hope, thanks to a local journalist who tweeted to junior external affairs minister VK Singh. Singh responded to journalist Premdan Detha’s tweet and sought details for the Indian high commission to take up the case. Detha told Hindustan Times he has already sent all the details to the minister.
“Everybody giving assurances that someday my husband will return to me…I spent my life with these hopes,” Laxmi told HT.
She is cautious in her optimism because her hopes have been belied in the past. In 2010, the release of some prisoners from Pakistani jails buoyed the family but Bhagu’s name never made the list. The next year, the family received a letter from him informing them that he was lodged in the Central Jail in Pakistan’s Hyderabad. There has been no communication since. “When we heard from him again in 2011, we were relieved to know that he was fine,” she said.
Laxmi says for decades, she dealt with the tensions of bringing up her children and providing for her family but now they are all adults – her children are 41, 38 and 36 years old – and earn for themselves.
“Hope of my husband’s return helped me live for 30 years. Now again, I’m daring to hope. If such a big leader has said so, he will definitely try…the rest is in god’s hands.”