One languishing in Oman jail, the other under NGO care in Pakistan

While Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has urged the Union government to seek the return of sepoy Jaspal Singh, who is incarcerated in a prison in Oman, Pakistan’s former minister for human rights Ansar Burney is set to visit India to trace the family of a 21-year-old speech and hearing impaired girl Guddi, who was found stranded at the Lahore railway station about 13 years ago. The girl is presently under the care of an NGO.

Mr. Badal has sought the intervention of the Union Defence as well as the External Affairs Ministries to seek the release of Mr. Jaspal Singh of Punjab Regiment declared ‘Presumed Killed in Action’ during the 1971 Indo-Pak war in the Hussainewala sector.

The Chief Minister, in a communication to Defence Minister A.K. Antony, said the “war hero” was traced alive after 41 years, when Sukhdev Singh of Dugri Boormajra village in Ropar district met him accidentally at the Masira Island Jail of Oman in August 2010.

According to Mr. Sukhdev Singh, who recently returned home, Mr. Jaspal Singh told him that he, along with five others, were captured in 1971 and sent to Oman six years later. He also told Mr. Sukhdev Singh that there was one more prisoner from his regiment in Oman.

Mr. Badal, in a statement, said the providential identification required “post-haste” investigations and if the information was correct, the External Affairs Ministry should make concerted efforts to restore the ‘war hero’ to his family.

“This would be the most humanitarian task to enable a war hero to spend his last days with dignity, honour and love of his near ones,” added Mr. Badal.

Meanwhile, Mr. Burney has announced that he will visit India on October 12, to seek the support of the government, human rights groups and social organisations to trace the family of “Guddi,” who can neither speak nor hear. Mr. Burney has already uploaded Guddi’s pictures and videos on various social networking sites.

According to Mr. Burney, Guddi, who can communicate only in some written Hindi, recalls that she had seven brothers and three sisters. Her house was located on the banks of a river and was close to a hotel and a hospital. It appears that she accidentally boarded the Samjhauta Express and was detained by the authorities at the Lahore station. Mr. Burney believes that if the Indian government showed interest, it would facilitate the Pakistan authorities to repatriate Guddi, who could be reunited with her family.