The Indian embassy in Muscat, Oman, has not found any trace of an Indian soldier who was taken as a Prisoner of War (PoW) by the Pakistan Army in 1971 and then was supposed to have been transferred to a prison in Oman after the war ended.
The Sunday Guardian had filed an RTI with the Indian embassy in Oman, seeking details of the presence of Sepoy Jaspal Singh, an Indian soldier who took part in the 1971 war with Pakistan, after which he was captured by the Pakistan army and taken as a PoW and then transferred to a prison compound in Masira Island, Oman.
In its reply, the Indian embassy has said that “as per the information received from the local authorities, there is no detention centre in Masira Wilayat and no Indian national was detailed in Masira island jail of Oman”.
Sepoy Jaspal had “surfaced” in 2012, almost 41 years after being declared dead, after he allegedly met one Sukhdev Singh, a Punjabi carpenter, who had gone to Oman on a work visa in 2010.
After his return from Oman in July 2012, Sukhdev, who is a resident of Dugri village in Rupnagar, informed the locals and officials that he was contacted by Sepoy Jaspal when he had gone to install kitchen equipment in the prison at Masira Island.
According to Sukhdev, when he was working in the kitchen, one Punjabi individual discreetly approached him and gave him details of his village, Pamour, in Fatehgarh Sahib district and said that he was Sepoy Jaspal Singh of Punjab Regiment and that he was captured by the Pakistan Army at Hussainiwala near the Ferozpur border along with four more soldiers on 4 December 1971 after which they were all detained in a Pakistani prison for six years before being transferred to Masira Island prison in Oman.
As per Sukhdev, Jaspal, who was over 73 years old at that time, had told him about the presence of two other Indian PoWs at the Masria Island prison.
Jaspal also told Sukhdev about the details of his wife, which was later confirmed by Sukhdev when he spoke to Jaspal’s relatives when Sukhdev came back to India in 2012.
After this was reported by the media, the then Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal spoke to the then Defence Minister A.K. Antony with a request to make arrangements to bring back Sepoy Jaspal Singh from Oman, but nothing happened, and Sepoy Jaspal was forgotten again.
As per the latest information given out by the government, there are 74 Missing Defence Personnel (MDP) who are believed to be in Pakistan’s custody, but whose presence has not been acknowledged so far by Pakistan.