Help release PoW in Oman, Badal urges Antony
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Friday sought Defence Minister A.K. Antony's intervention to get a prisoner of war (PoW), presumed killed in the 1971 India-Pakistan war, released from an Oman jail.
Jaspal Singh, a sepoy in the Punjab regiment, was first presumed killed in action during the war between India and Pakistan in 1971.
In a letter, Badal urged Antony to ask the Ministry of External Affairs to immediately take up the matter with the government of Oman to grant amnesty on priority to Jaspal Singh, who was recently traced to a prison in the Gulf nation.
Jaspal Singh (Service No. 2452388) went missing in action during the war in the Hussainiwala sector of Punjab's border district of Ferozepur. He was presumed to have been killed.
However, some time back, Sukhdev Singh, a carpenter from Dugri Boormajra village in Punjab's Ropar district, met Jaspal Singh when he went to work at the Masira Island jail in Oman.
Now 70 years old, Jaspal reportedly told Sukhdev that during the 1971 war, he was captured in the Ferozepur sector by the Pakistani army and put in various jails after the war. He remained in Pakistani jails for six years before being sent to the Oman prison.
How and why he was sent there is still a mystery.
Jaspal had approached Sukhdev secretly and gave him details of his village, Pamour, in Fatehgarh Sahib district.
Badal, in his letter, wrote that presuming Jaspal to be dead nearly 41 years ago, the Punjab government extended special pension and other benefits, including 10 acres of land, to his widow and children.
He said Jaspal was a war hero, who should be restored to his family immediately on humanitarian grounds.
"This will be the most humanitarian task to enable this war hero to spend his last days with dignity, honour and love of his near ones," Badal said.
Jaspal's family, especially wife Baljit Kaur, 65, and son Kamaljit Singh, want him to return home.