Jaspal Singh, in Oman jail, was taken prisoner in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war

The National Commission for Minorities has decided to ask the Union government to use diplomatic channels and seek the United Nations Human Rights Council’s intervention to secure the release of Jaspal Singh, a sepoy of the Indian Army who has been languishing in a prison in Oman after being taken prisoner in the 1971 Indo-Pak war.

Member of the commission, Ajaib Singh, talking to reporters here on Sunday, said he had already written to the Prime Minister, the UPA chairperson and the Defence Minister seeking the early release of Jaspal Singh. As he pursued the matter, it was revealed by the External Affairs Ministry that Pakistan had denied that Jaspal Singh was taken prisoner of war in 1971.

Dr. Ajaib Singh said the panel would now approach the Union government to seek the UNHRC intervention for Jaspal Singh’s release as well as inquire into how Jaspal Singh reached Oman.

Dr. Ajaib Singh, accompanied by by Jaspal Singh’s wife and son, Baljeet Kaur and Kamaljeet Singh, explained how the former Indian Army jawan was traced. He said one Sukhdev Singh, hailing from Baljeet Kaur’s paternal village in Ropar district, was working at the Masira Jail of Oman, where he met Jaspal Singh. Sukhdev Singh conveyed the news to Jaspal’s family this year, who have contacted the Sainik Welfare department, ex-servicemen associations and the Punjab government.

Baljeet Kaur recalls that she was just 24 years old and Kamaljeet three when the family received the news that Jaspal Singh, who was serving in the 15th Punjab regiment, died in combat in the Hussianiwala sector at the Ferozepur border. They had received all benefits provided by the government announced for the families of army personnel who died in the war.

Kamaljeet Singh, working in the State’s education department, is eager to see his father again. The family says the letters sent by them to various quarters had not evoked any response as yet.