In 1971, Devender Kaur was only 14 years old when her father, Captain Assa Singh who was home to celebrate Diwali with his family that year of Indo-Pak war was taken a prisoner by Pakistan.
Kaur, now 61, and her family members have done everything possible to get Sigh back, but failed.
Now, the proposed opening of Kartarpur Corridoor has rekindled hope in her family of getting Kaur’s father back from Pakistan.
Kaur had no idea it was her last Diwali with her father, who, two days after leaving home wastaken a prisoner of war by Pakistan from Jammu’s Chhamb border area.
“Around 15 days after papa left home, a person from Gajansoo, Marh, who had heard the news on radio about 54 Indian soldiers taken war prisoners from different areas on Indo-Pak border by Pakistan, came to our home to confirm that my father was one among them,” said Kaur, who now lives in Trikuta Nagar area of Jammu.
For several years, Kaur said, she and her family members believed in every rumour spread by the villagers about Captain Assa Singh in Pakistan jails.
“Sometimes, we had also to believe in other rumours about the death of my father. But these rumours died down in the year 1987 when one of the 54 war prisoners, Major AK Suri, wrote a letter to his colonel father in Delhi confirming that he along with my father were alive in a Pakistani jail,” Kaur said, tears rolling down her wrinkled cheeks.
She said that in the following years, she, her husband, Gurdeep Singh and mother, Nirmal Kaur, left no stone unturned to convince the government of India that Captain Assa Singh was alive in Pakistani jail and efforts should be made to release him.
“I, along with my daughter and son-in-law held several rallies in Delhi, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and met every politician and pleading before government of India to convince Pakistan government to allow us visit the Pakistani jails,” Kaur’s mother, 84-years old Nirmal Kaur told Then in 2008, a delegation of 14 people was allowed to visit Pakistan during the Manmohan Singh led UPA government.
“There (Pakistan), we were not allowed to visit the prisoners in jails. The jail authorities only provided us with registers on which the names of prisoners were written in Urdu but none of us knew the language,” the octogenarian wife of prisoner of war said, adding that it was just a formality.
“The jail authorities of Pakistan read the names of prisoners. When we didn’t find names of our relatives, we came back to India.”
Now, 47 years after Captain Assa Singh was taken prisoner, his family members pin hope on Imran Khan, the new prime minister of Pakistan for his release.