SAHR to bring up PoW issue at SAARC | india | Hindustan Times
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SAHR to bring up PoW issue at SAARC

South Asia Human Rights, which has quietly been working for the cause of the prisoners - those from the 1971 war, those who have strayed across borders, those such as spies who have finished their sentence but are still incarcerated - will present a petition to the heads of state at the SAARC Summit, urging their release.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2004 17:44 IST

At the Saarc Summit, an organisation which has quietly been working for the cause of the prisoners - those from the 1971 war, those who have strayed across borders, those such as spies who have finished their sentence but are still incarcerated - will present a petition to the heads of state urging their release.

The organisation is called SAHR - technically called the South Asia Human Rights but more important is the meaning it connotes: SAHR in urdu also means morning; and their move to highlight the plight of the prisoners may touch the lives of the PoW families, struggling for the release of the 1971 PoWs, with a ray of hope.

SAHR is headed by Former Prime Minister of India Inder Kumar Gujral in India, in Pakistan the eminent human rights lawyer and former head of HRCP Asma Jahangir chairs the organisation and it also has its branches in in Bangladesh and Nepal. Representatives of SAHR from all the four nations will meet the regional heads of state at the Saarc summit.

Dr Syeda Hameed , member of the Pakistan India People's forum for Peace and Democracy and member of SAHR in India says: "The issue of the prisoners is a major undertaking with SAHR. We were never keen to tom-tom our efforts unless something major came up. We have been quietly working at it and are yet to see a major breakthrough. Unfortunately, on the issue of PoWs of the 1971 war, nothing has come up from Pakistan's side, apart from consistent denials on the presence of the prisoners in Pakistan."

Eminent veteran journalist and former member of Rajya Sabha Kuldeep Nayyar, also a member of SAHR, has said that he is scheduled to visit Pakistan sometime in mid-January and will carry with him the official list of Indian prisoners of the 1971 war. "I will further highlight the issue and ask the Pak branch of SAHR to find out what more can be done on the matter," he said.