New Delhi: The central government Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it had no knowledge of the "exact status" of 54 defence personnel from all three wings of the defence forces who are missing since 1965 and 1971 India-Pakistan war.
"As such, the exact status of these 54 missing defence personnel believed to be in Pakistani jails is not known," the government said in its affidavit filed in the apex court, adding that the Pakistan government has denied the presence of the missing servicemen in their custody.
The government has taken up with the Pakistani government the issue of release and repatriation of these 54 personnel believed to be in their jails at all levels but Pakistani government has "never acknowledged their presence in its custody".
The government furnished the information in pursuance to the court's order seeking the details of the steps taken by it to trace the missing Indian defence personnel which were believed to be languishing in Pakistani jails since 1971 and also dues paid made to their next of kin.
Giving the break-up of the missing defence personnel, the government said 24 of them belong to army including one officer and two other ranks who are missing since the 1965 war and 13 officers and 8 other ranks missing since 1971 war.
Besides these 24 army personnel - 14 officers and 10 other ranks, another three - Captain Vashist Nath, Gunner Shyam Singh and Sepoy Gian Chand too are believed to be missing but details of their service record, unit and next of kin is not available.
Similarly in the IAF, 24 personnel are missing since two wars that includes three officers missing since 1965 war and 21 officers missing since 1971 war.
One Navy officer and one sailor are missing since 1971 war as is Lance Naik Hazora Singh of the Border Security Force.
The dues of the 16 army personnel have been paid but in case of eight the dues have been deposited with the Gujarat High Court registry as directed by it as details of their next of kin is not available.
Similarly in case of navy, the payment of dues has been made in case of one but in respect of other the amount is deposited with the registry of Gujarat High Court as verification of the legal heirship of his brother is pending.
In case of 24 IAF officers, payment of dues have been made to the next of kin of 20 officers and the dues of remaining four officers has been deposited with Gujarat High Court registry.
Dues of Lance Naik Hazora Singh of BSF too have been paid to next of his kin.