Court pulls up government over missing soldier

December 16th, 2009 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 16 (IANS) The Delhi High Court Wednesday pulled up the government for not being able to get any information on a missing Indian soldier suspected to be in a Pakistani jail for the last 44 years.
“Your (government) attitude shows that nobody cares for the soldier. No information was gained by the government despite so many chances. It is not done,” said a division bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S.Muralidhar.

The court directed the government to contact the Ministry of External Affairs and file a status report regarding the information of Anand Patri by Jan 13.

The court warned the counsel appearing for government that if the status report was not filed then the defence secretary should be asked to be present in the court personally on the next date of hearing.

In its earlier report the government contended that “we have no record of Anand Patri after 1965. Though he took part in 1962 Indo-China conflict and also in the 1965 India-Pakistan war, but after this, he has not been traced and his name has not been found even amongst the prisoners of war of 1965.”

However, a right to information (RTI) query to the external affairs ministry in 2007 revealed that the Indian High Commission in Pakistan had been informed that an Indian national named Naseem Gopal was lodged in a Pakistani jail.

Patri had seen a faded photograph of his father in an Oriya daily Feb 7, 2003 - 38 years after he went missing. The photograph, published by the Orissa government, identified him as Naseem Gopal, an inmate in a Pakistani jail for almost 40 years.

The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by human rights activist Madangopal Khushiram Paul and lawyer Kishor Paul on behalf of Patri.

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