74 missing defence personnel believed to be in Pak jails

 Seventy-four missing defence personnel, including 54 Prisoners of Wars (PoWs), are believed to be in Pakistani jails for the last 41 years, government said today.

"According to available information, 74 missing defence personnel including 54 PoWs are believed to be in Pakistan since 1971," Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur told the Lok Sabha in a written reply.

She said that government has repeatedly taken up the matter with Government of Pakistan through diplomatic channels and during the high-level contacts for the release of Indian PoWs.

"However, Pakistan does not acknowledge the presence of any Indian PoWs in its custody," Kaur said.

On early repatriation of these prisoners, she said that, "the matter was raised with Pakistan at India-Pakistan Home/ Interior Secretary talks held in Islamabad on May 24-25, 2012 and India-Pakistan Foreign Secretary-level talks in New Delhi on July 4-5, 2012."

Kaur also informed Parliament that during the visit of the External Affairs Minister to Pakistan in 2007, Pakistan government was persuaded to receive a delegation of relatives of Missing Defence Personnel to permit them to visit prisons in Pakistan, where they are believed to be incarcerated.

"A delegation of relatives, accordingly, visited 10 jails in Pakistan from June 1-14, 2007. The delegation could not conclusively confirm the physical presence of the Indian PoWs," the Minister said.

She also said that pursuant to the visit of the delegation of relatives of Missing Defence Personnel, a tri-service committee for monitoring matters on the subject has been formed in the Defence Ministry.

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