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Indian prisoners' kin leave for Pak
June 01, 2007 03:27 IST
With hope still writ large on their faces after four decades of wait for their missing kin to return, seven women looking for their husbands and an equal number of male next of kin today sought an assurance from the government that India would back them in their mission.
The 14-member team, which leaves here for Lahore on their mission, has been given 14 days by Pakistani authorities to visit 10 major jails spread all over the country to look for their missing kin.
The 14 services personnel -- seven from IAF and seven from the army -- have been on the missing list for decades, with some of them from 1965 conflict and others since the 1971 war.
On the eve of their departure, the POW mission members met Defence Minister A K Antony who told them that government will continue to pursue the missing PoW issue with Pakistan "till we find the truth".
"We are determined to embark on our mission," said Damyanti V Tambey, wife of Flight Lieutenant Vijay Vasant Tambay, when told of the statement by Pakistani officials claiming that there were no Indian Prisoners of War in Pakistani jails.
The relatives of the PoWs will start their mission with a visit to Lahore jail followed by trips to jails in Karachi, Sukkur, Multan, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Mianwali, Rawalpindi, Swabi and Darghai.
At the meeting with Antony, where the media was not allowed, the kin of the missing POWs requested the Defence Minister to arrange a face-to-face meeting with Pakistan President Pervez Musharaf.
Pointing out that for over 40 years they had been made to run from pillar to post to get information about their missing dear ones, the delegation demanded a separate department be created in the Defence Ministry for missing defence personnel.
"Such a department should create computer records of all missing in action people and update the data bank," they said.
"The government ascribes seriousness to the issue," the minister told them adding that this was reflected by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's taking up the issue at the highest level as the government shares the pain of the relatives.
On the issue of arranging a meeting for them with the Pakistan President, the defence minister said this would be pursued through diplomatic channels.
"The government will take all possible measures through our mission in Islamabad," he said.