Family hopes for return of Indian 'martyr' discovered alive


Staff member
Faridkot, Punjab: Surjit Singh, a Border Security Force (BSF) constable deployed on the India-Pakistan border in Rajasthan, went missing in the 1971 war between the two neighbours.

The Indian government declared him a martyr three years later. However, after a wait of more than 40 years, his family received information that stunned them — Surjit is alive.

Ansar Burney, Pakistan's former federal minister for human rights, has now confirmed that Surjit is in a Pakistani jail, they say.

"Many people told me to re-marry but I was confident of my husband's return. I am happy that I am not a widow. Now I am waiting for the moment when I would actually see him," said Surjit's wife Angrez Kaur, 61, who lives in Faridkot town.

Finding help

Surjit's 39-year-old son Amrik, a photographer, told IANS: "An Indian prisoner, Khushi Mohammad, a resident of Malerkotla, returned to India from Pakistan in 2004. He told us that my father was alive and was in a jail in Lahore.

"We then approached the Indian government and the BSF, but did not receive any satisfactory reply from anywhere."

Many Indian prisoners who returned from Pakistan told Kaur and Amrik that Surjit was alive and was lodged in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.

After waiting for years for help from the Indian authorities, they sought Burney's help.

"We approached Burney a few months back through my friend Ajay Mehra. Burney had assured Ajay that he would meet [Pakistan President] Asif Ali Zardari and [Prime Minister] Yousuf Raza Gilani to discuss this matter," he added.

Mehra, a medical practitioner, said: "Ansar Burney has traced Surjit in Lahore. He had called on Thursday and told me about this."

Amrik said: "We have met the deputy commissioner of Faridkot and he has promised us to write to the central government about the issue."

According to official records, Surjit, a resident of Tehna village went missing on December 3, 1971 from Jaisalmer. He was declared a martyr in 1974, when Kaur started receiving a pension and other benefits.