During the 1971 Indo-Pak War between India and Pakistan, a number of Indian Officers were captured by the Pakistani security forces. According to the Indian Government’s official list, the number of POWs captured by Pakistan totalled 54 however, evidence suggests that the actual figures could be three times as much as the official figures stated by the Indian authorities.Over the last 45 years the successive Indian Governments have done next to nothing in ascertaining the whereabouts of their Officers. The families have been abandoned and left to their own devices to find out. This has to be the cruelist dereliction of duty by the successive Governments of India towards its security forces who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country – a country that has abandoned them.The Pakistani authorities have previously, in the early days of the capture of the Indian Prisoners of War acknowledged the existence of the Indian POWs but in recent years, their position has been ideny their existence and a refusal to explain what happened to them following their capture and detention.
The Law Governing Prisoners of War
This is currently laid out in the Geneva Convention of 1949, to which both India and Pakistan are signatories . There is also a Protocol dated 8th June 1977, under Article 70 of which, prisoners should be afforded the opportunity of writing to their families notifying them of their capture address and state of health, this should be done within a week of their arrival at a camp.In the event of the death of a prisoner then we must look to Article 32 of the Protocol which states that families have a right to know the fate of their relatives, therefore in the event of the death of a PoW then not only should their families be informed but access should be provided to the site of their graves, and if requested, their remains repatriated (Article 34) Therefore the Indian PoWs under the Convention, should have been allowed to inform their families of their detention and in the event of their death again their families should have been told. The problem is that the Pakistani authorities have formally failed to acknowledge that the Indian PoWs were or are in their custody.
Further reading:News Week Article – ‘After 45 Years in Pakistan,India’s ‘Missing 54′ PoWs Could be Coming Home….’ Alastair Sloan