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.
Amrik Singh, son of Surjit Singh, a prisoner of war (POW) since captured by Pakistani army in Jammu’s Samba sector in 1971, has written to the external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, requesting her to take up the issue for the early release of his father. “They will hang my father too. The death sentence awarded to Jadhav has shaken us,” Amrik said. “In ever saw my father but am running from pillar to post to get him freed. I want to hug him at least once in my lifetime,” he said, adding he will meet Swaraj on Monday.
Surjit’s wife Angrej Kaur was only 19 when her husband went missing. The couple had been blessed with a son days before her world turned upside down. “I still remember his love for the country. I have lost all hopes to see my husband again,” she said.
ARMY DECLARED SURJIT DEAD IN 1974
After Indian Army failed to trace Surjit, the family was given his death certificate, and extended all benefits in 1974.
“The family had accepted the fate. It was in year 2004 when Pakistan released 36 Indian prisoners that we came to know my father was still alive and lodged in the Kot Lakhpat Jail. In 2005, Navjot Singh Sidhu and BJP leader Smriti Irani joined me during a protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. I met the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, but to no avail,” Amrik said. He said in 2013, another prisoner released by Pakistan informed them about his father languishing in a jail of Quetta province. “I won’t give up till my father is released.”