New Delhi: As India prepares to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1965 war with Pakistan, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday informed the Lok Sabha that 54 defence personnel missing during 1965 and 1971 wars were believed to be in Pakistan custody.
"Fifty-four missing defence personnel of the 1965 and 1971 wars are believed to be in the custody in Pakistan. The (central) government has repeatedly been taking up with the Pakistan government the release of the missing defence personnel," Parrikar said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha.
"However, Pakistan does not acknowledge the presence of any such personnel in its custody," he said.
"A delegation of 14 relatives of missing defence personnel also visited 10 jails in Pakistan from June 1-14, 2007. The delegation, however, could not conclusively confirm the physical presence of any missing defence personnel," he added.
The minister said that the families of these missing defence personnel were given liberalised pensionary and rehabilitation benefits as per extant rules.
Subsequently, payment of service and retirement benefits have been made to the next of kin of the 38 (including one from Border Security Force) out of 54 missing defence personnel, as if they had retired on superannuation, in compliance with judgement dated December 23, 2011 of the Gujarat High Court.
"In case of 13 missing defence personnel, dues have been deposited in the high court due to the non-availability of next of kin/legal heirs or non-establishment of legal heirship of the claimant," Parrikar said.
"Details of three missing defence personnel are not known and the high court has been apprised in this regard," he added.