The Supreme Court has sought the Centre’s response today on a plea seeking repatriation of 54 Indian army officers who have been detained by Pakistan as Prisoners of War since the 1971 war.
The plea filed by Jasbir Kaur, wife of Major Kanwaljit Singh who is among the detainees, also seeks setting up of a domestic and an international mechanism to protect the rights of POWs.
The plea also seeks the Court’s directions for investigation into the killing of Captain Saurabh Kalia and four sepoys of Jat Regiment, bodies of whom were returned by Pakistan. Saurabh Kalia was an officer of the Indian Army who was killed in 1999 at the age of 22 during the Kargil War while being held as a prisoner of war by the Pakistan Army.
Today, the top court said it is an “important matter” and will be heard after three weeks. The matter was being heard by a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Surya Kant.
The petitioner was represented by advocates Namit Saxena and Manish Bhatnagar.
Jasbir Kaur, 69, has not been able to establish any contact with her husband in the last 50 years and has brought up her daughter as a single mother.
Major Kanwaljit Singh is believed to be about 80 years old now.
“Families have spent a lifetime in the wait of their dear ones already, most wives have not remarried despite having lived just a short married life of a couple odd years. Toddlers grew up without their father’s presence. Soldiers of this great nation have been living a miserable life for almost 50 years now. Government of India’s claim that they have been taking all possible steps for ensuring release of POWs, sounds utterly hollow and devoid of any conviction,” the petition read.
The plea added, “Remedies in the case lie with the state and there is no better time than now with their (India’s) growing clout and position of dominance in the international arena, which could be utilised for good of the humanity across borders.”
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