DID YOU KNOW that there are still 54 Indian soldiers incarcerated in Pakistani prisons post the Indo-Pak war of 1971? It is an irony that even after the comprehensive victory, India could not negotiate freedom for her soldiers who were trapped by the enemy in the heat of war.
These prisoners are no ordinary mortals. They fought for the honour and glory of the country and have to be treated as such. They do not deserve to remain in the dark and dingy cells of an enemy nation. They are our heroes. Their tale should have formed part of India’s martial folklore and their names taken with respect and pride. Today they remain forgotten, mere names in the files lost in the labyrinth of the South Block. It is a collective failure of the entire nation. Not one government since 1971 has made a sincere attempt to get them released. Not one politician chose to take up their cause. As a nation, we have displayed only callous indifference towards these soldiers who fought to preserve the country’s freedom and in the process, lost their own.
Government of India should make it a point to place the release of the Indian soldiers high on the agenda of talks with President Musharraf. If pressed hard enough, Pakistan will have to accept India’s request. What is required is a display of serious resolve by Indian negotiators. As citizens of India it is our responsibility to impress upon the government to deal with this case very seriously. The release of our soldiers can very well mark a small but significant turning point in the long road to peace.
A collective effort can surely help secure freedom for our heroes. It’s time we fight for those who fought for us. If we fail to raise our voice now it will be too late and will be a blot on the entire nation.
The families of the POWs are fighting a lonely battle for the last 36 years. There are few others who have done their bit to bring this issue forward. YFE (Youth For Equality) has also started an awareness campaign through a play in Mumbai on this issue. But what is required is a collective effort of all concerned citizens.