This is one of the stories of the many Indians who suffer in the Pakistani prisons!
On the cracked wall behind is a black-and-white picture that shows a fresh-faced bride just of her teens.
She looks a bit startled, surprised by the camera’s whirr. Standing next to her is her husband, Kashmir Singh. He looks stern.
That was the only photo Paramjit Kaur could click with her husband. A few years after her marriage in 1964, Singh, a soldier with the Indian Army’s Military Intelligence, was arrested in Pakistan.
He’s in the Mianwali Central Jail in that country for over 30 years now. But that’s not where the twist in Paramjit’s tragic tale lies.
A letter has reached her Singh, whom she had given up for dead, after than a decade. And now, with the apparent thaw in Indo-Pak relations, she wants him back: “Buses, trains and more buses (to Pakistan).”
”That’s all we hear. can’t the government get my husband back? I grown old in his absence. At least I can die alongside him. Please get my husband back from Pakistan.”
There is pain in her voice. But hope, too. Hope that rekindled with a shoddily written letter from her husband that she received in her Nangal Choran village on March 17.
The letter is in both Hindi and Urdu. Posted from Mianwali Central Jail, and addressed to son Shashipal Singh, the letter has two Rs 15 stamps with Jinnah’s pictures on them.
It says, “Please write, why you have stopped writing? Your memories are all I have.” Weeping, Shashipal says, “I always knew my father was alive. He left when I was a toddler, never to return. This letter is our last hope, but the words ‘death sentence’ written on the envelope worry me. If he is indeed alive, I hope he will not be hanged. Not at this age. He is 66 now.”
Shashipal is surprised why his father says they stopped writing. Obviously, their letters never made it to Singh’s prison cell.
Clutching the letter, Paramjit says, “My tears had dried but with this (the letter) there is some hope. I beg from the government to facilitate Kashmir’s return.”
“The Prime Minister, I believe, is flagging off a bus to Nankana Sahib on Friday from Amritsar. I want to ask Manmohan saheb to please get his countrymen back from across the border.”