Sqn Ldr Mohinder Kumar Jain, Vr.C, Indian Airforce

Sqn Ldr Mohinder Kumar Jain, Vr.C

During the India-Pakistan war in December 1971, Sqn Ldr Mohinder Kumar Jain was serving with a fighter bomber squadron in the Western Sector. On 4th December, he carried out two strike missions over Mianwali airfield and attacked two enemy aircraft on the ground. He successfully disengaged himself from enemy Sabre and Mirage aircraft, which attacked him, and brought his aircraft safely back to the base.

On 5th, 7th and 9th December, he carried out successful missions to Poonch, Sambha and Dinanagar Sectors in support of our ground forces. On 10th December, he led a two-aircraft strike mission to the Chhamb Sector. Despite heavy and concentrated ground fire, he made accurate cannon and bomb attacks on enemy positions. During this action his aircraft was hit and crashed in enemy territory.

Throughout these operations, Sqn Ldr M.K. Jain displayed gallantry, professional skill and devotion to duty of a higher order.

The family of Squadron Leader M.K. Jain who went missing in Chhamb sector of Jammu region in 1971 war, believes he is alive though they have little proof. "My father did survive the mission. We have been writing to everybody, all governments. Nobody is bothered," says his daughter, Meenu Jain. The Indian army unit in the Chhamb sector had reported that they saw an Indian pilot eject to safety at the same time as Jain's last mission. But there has been no more information about him till now.

Kamlesh Jain holds a pic of her husband. (pic: Outlook India)

Wife Kamlesh Jain, was 23, when she was told that her husband was Missing in Action(MiA). "They returned his identity card in 1972, and some clothes that they said belonged to him. There has been no more information," says his wife Kamlesh Jain, who believes that "none of our governments are bothered about us". "We are tired of hearing, 'They must have perished in prison.' There is proof, like Dr. Suri's letter. They are still alive." she said.

Kamlesh Jain shudders to think what indignities and torture her husband has had to go through. Her voice quivers when she talks about him. "With the first morsel of any meal I eat even now, guilt nudges my heart. Has he had anything to eat today? What does he get to eat in the Pakistani jail? Why should he be suffering so much for being a soldier for his country?"

Kamlesh's three daughters are grown up now, and joined their mother's quest for the recovery of a father lost to them in the 1971 Indo-Pak war. Files full of letters to ministries, correspondences with the army, exchanges with human rights bodies, frayed newspaper clippings, photocopied scraps of information, all scream of years of battle—mental and actual—the Jains have been fighting for the return of a man they love so much. And for whom the country seemingly cares nothing. Says the frustrated family: "Kidnap a minister's daughter and our government sets hordes of terrorists free for her release. But no one cares a damn for a soldier."

Kamlesh Jain and her daughter

On 14th July 2001, the families of four POW's held a Press conference in Agra to urge the visiting Pak President Pervez Musharraf to heed their plea to release all prisoners. "We understand political compulsions make it embarrassing for the Pakistanis to acknowledge the presence of my father and others like him in their jails. I don't care if they label my father a spy, a smuggler, a fisherman, anything, as long as they release him," said Dr Monica Jain, who was only three months old when her father went MiA.

"Even before she(Kamlesh) could accept the fact that her husband was in enemy hands, she was forced to sign documents accepting that he was missing, presumed dead. It was only after this that she was able to get the resettlement benefits. For the past 30 years she has been living like a widow, knowing that her husband is alive. We would give anything to get my father back,'' Monica said.