Chander Suta Dogra's Next Book Explores The Stories About Prisoners Who Never Came Back

Published by Harper Collins India, Chander Suta Dogra's 'Missing In Action' addresses several questions related to India's armed forces and real accounts about the people who have gone missing.

Chander Suta Dogra's Next Book Explores The Stories About Prisoners Who Never Came Back

The story of Indian soldiers who are missing is always the one that remains unfinished. These are the men who disappeared in enemy territory while on daring missions during the 1965 and 1971 India–Pakistan wars. Officially, the number of soldiers missing in action stands at eighty-three, but many believe it could be a lot more.

Over the last five decades, there have been scattered news reports and a few memoirs offering information piecemeal, but Chander Suta Dogra's 'Missing In Action'  is the first comprehensive text that explores all aspects of the issue;  the political, diplomatic and military. The result of years of research, Missing in Action offers startling revelations that make the issue live again. Amid much hearsay and dismissive commentary on the subject, Chander Suta Dogra’s book is an attempt to find an answer to the question, ‘What happened to these men?’ It also hopes to open up a debate on how soldiers are often used as pawns by governments, even as they pay lip-service to their cause.

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Chander Suta Dogra is a senior journalist and author. Her first book, Manoj and Babli A Hate Story (2013), explored the tough road to justice for victims of honour killings. She has worked for Outlook, The Indian Express, The Hindu and Hindustan Times among other publications over the last twenty-five years. Nowadays, she writes for popular news portals like the Wire and Firstpost.

As the daughter, wife and mother of defence officers, she has lived most of her life in cantonment towns where the loss of soldiers in combat and the pain of their families and colleagues is an ever-present reality.

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The book addresses questions such as Why did India give up 93000 Pak prisoners of war without ascertaining whether all of its own soldiers were repatriated? Why did Pakistan hold back some Indian PoWs?  The politics of a defeated nation and other constraints that dictated its decision. Did India also hold back some Pakistani PoWs from those wars? New evidence that has surfaced in recent years indicates, that it did. But why did Pak not pursue the matter as vigorously as India did?

It also busts the myth of 54 missing defence personnel. With the help of war records from both Pakistan and India, it is clear that while some of the missing soldiers were or are indeed in Pakistan’s custody, the same cannot be said for all the names on the list. Many names are shown to be conclusively killed in action in the records of the Indian Air Force and Pakistani war records also affirm the same. The government also admitted to the Gujarat High Court that some of the names on the list are ‘confirmed dead’. Then why does it persist with a falsehood? Why is it prolonging the agony of the families who are living in uncertainty all these years?

The book also contains detailed accounts of two visits to Pakistan – in 1983 and 2007 - by some relatives of the missing men to search for their loved ones. How and why did these visits fail? The book was released on January 13. 

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