Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on the petition of Pal Kaur, a resident of Bathinda whose husband Dharam,Havaldar Dharam Pal Singh was captured as a prisoner of war by the Pakistan army in 1971 and is languishing since then in a Pakistani Jail.
“The petitioner, a 78-year-old woman from Lehra Dhudkot ,Bathinda is seeking issuance of direction to the Union of India (UoI) to take up the matter of release of her husband, Havaldar Dharam Pal Singh, from Pakistan jail. Owing to which Justice MMS Bedi has issued notice to External Affairs Ministry,” Counsel of the petitioner HC Arora told India Today.
The court besides issuing a notice has also directed the government to file a case in the International Court of Justice, for seeking his release as a prisoner of war, under the ‘Simla Agreement’ signed between India and Pakistan for release of the prisoners of war.
Pal Kaur in her civil writ petition, told the court that her husband had fought in 1971 war against Pakistan on the border of Bangladesh and was captured by Pakistan’s Army from there. However, the Government of India (GoI) and Indian Army treated him as a martyr as he was reported missing on December 5, 1971. Even Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India condoled the death of Dharam Pal Singh by writing a letter to Pal Kaur.
The petitioner, however, had maintained in the court that her husband was not a martyr but was languishing in Kot Lakhpat Rai Jail in Pakistan. She had been informed about the same by another war prisoner Satish Kumar of Ferozepur.
Kumar had told her that Dharam Pal Singh was alive and was in the same jail he was in, between July 19, 1974 to 1976. Satish Kumar had also signed an affidavit to substantiate his claim.
Citing Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case, Pal Kaur has now sought repatriation of Dharam Pal Singh on the basis of provisions contained in ‘Simla Pact’.
Havaldar Dharam Pal Singh of the 4th Sikh Regiment, fought against Pakistan in the Indo-Pak war at Bangladesh Border during the year 1971. Despite being declared dead, he could not be cremated as his body was not recovered. Even his name was not included in the list of missing soldiers.
Pal Kaur also cited the case of one Jasbir Kaur whose husband Major Kawaljit Singh, who is also a Shaurya Chakra awardee, is allegedly a prisoner in some Pakistani Jail.