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54 Indian PoWs languishing in Pakistan jails since 1971: Their release, still a big question?
Akhil Bhartiya Jat Aarakshan Sangharsh Samiti Punjab's President, Karnail Singh Bhawra, has written a letter to President Pranab Mukerjee and PM Narendera Modi that there are not only 332 Indian Fishermen in Pakistan's Kot Lakhpat Rai and other Jails rather 54 Indian Prisoners of Wars (PoWs) are also there, who has not so far been released by the Pakistan government.

These prisoners of wars were arrested by Pakistan Rangers during 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. Nobody knows as to whether these prisoners are alive or dead but after filing of petition in the Supreme Court by Indian Human Rights officials, the Government of India had agreed that there are 54 Indian PoWs in Pakistan jails who have been illegally detained and have not yet been released.

Bhawra said, for the last so many years Human Rights workers, Advocates are fighting legally for the release of Indian PoWs. Missing Defense Personal Association, President M.K.Paul said, Indian Government had released 93,000 soldiers of Pakistan during 1971 Indo-Pak war but Pakistan has not released 54 Indian PoWs so far.

They said, they had already produced the proofs of Indian PoWs in the Pakistan jails in the Supreme Court and Gujarat High Court but the Government of India has not initiated any concrete step in this regard. According to International Law it is mandatory to release PoWs but Pakistan has violated the International Law. It was unfortunate that the Indian PoWs could not be released as the UPA government did not present this issue before the International Human Rights Organization.

Bhawra said it is need of the hour that GoI should initiate some strong steps for the release of Indian PoWs in Pakistan by raising this issue at the international level.

According to Amrik Singh, son of BSF constable Surjit Singh, who is in Pakistan jail for the last 41 years, India government has not bothered to get him released. He said, his father was arrested during Indo-Pak war in Jammu & Kashmir border area. First, the government declared him as missing but later on, the prisoners released by the Pakistan government informed that his father is in Pakistan's jail.

He said, it is not only his father rather 54 more Indian defense personnel are languishing in Pakistan jails. They are neither being treated humanely nor protected against any act of violence, as well as against intimidation, insults, and public curiosity. What to say, they are not enjoying the minimum conditions of detention as per the International Human Law for accommodation, food, clothing, hygiene and medical care.

But Amrik Singh is still hopeful that GoI will take this issue seriously and only then the release of prisoners in Pakistan Jails could be possible.

In fact, according to law, these cases should be pursued in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as India is governed by a bilateral agreement with Pakistan based on the 1972 Shimla agreement.

In 2012 India's Supreme Court while staying Gujarat High Court order had directed the Central government to raise the issue of 54 PoWs in ICJ.

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