Post-Jadhav fears: Pak may hang my father too, says son of captured BSF jawan
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Post-Jadhav fears: Pak may hang my father too, says son of captured BSF jawan

After a Pakistani military court awarded death sentence to a former Indian naval officer, Kulbhushan Jadhav, last week, the family of a BSF soldier from Faridkot, who is lodged in a jail in the neighbouring country since 1971, fears the worst.

punjab Updated: Apr 17, 2017 08:32 IST
Nikhil Sharma
Nikhil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Faridkot
Amrik Singh (left), his mother Angrej Kaur and son Raman Singh hold up a photograph of Surjit Singh, who has been languishing in a Pakistani prison since 1971.(HT Photo)

The death sentence awarded by a Pakistani military court to former Indian naval officer Kulbhushan Jadhav has the family of a captured BSF soldier in Faridkot worried.

Surjit Singh, who was captured by the Pakistani army in Jammu’s Samba sector during the 1971 war, has been languishing in a prison in the neighbouring country since then. His son, Amrik, has now asked external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj to ensure that he is released at the earliest.

“They will hang my father too. The death sentence awarded to Jadhav has shaken us,” Amrik said in a letter to Swaraj. “I have never seen my father, but I have been running from pillar to post to get him freed. I want to hug him at least once in my lifetime,” he said.

Amrik said he would meet Swaraj on Monday.

Surjit’s wife, Angrej Kaur, was only 19 when he went missing. She had been blessed with a son days before her world turned upside down. “I still remember Surjit’s love for his country. I have lost all hope of seeing my husband again,” she said.

After repeated attempts by the Indian Army to trace the BSF soldier went in vain, the family was given his death certificate and extended all benefits in 1974. However, it was by a twist of fate that they came to know that Surjit was still alive as a prisoner of war.

“We had accepted our fate. However, in 2004 – when Pakistan released 36 Indian prisoners – we came to know that my father was still alive and lodged at Kot Lakhpat Jail. In 2005, BJP leaders Navjot Singh Sidhu (who has now joined Congress) and Smriti Irani accompanied me in protesting at Jantar Mantar. I even met the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but to no avail,” Amrik said.

In 2013, another prisoner released by Pakistan disclosed that Surjit was languishing in a Quetta jail.

However, bleak as things may look now, Amrik is in no mood to quit his struggle. “I won’t give up till my father is released,” he said.

A Pakistani army court had sentenced former Kulbhushan Jadhav to death for espionage and anti-state activities a few days ago. Diplomatic ties between India and Pakistan plunged following Jadhav’s conviction, with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj warning Islamabad of “consequences” if Jadhav’s death sentence was carried out.

Jadhav was reportedly captured in Balochistan in March last year. He was tried by a field general court martial under provisions of the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act.

First Published: Apr 16, 2017 09:32 IST