The dream of a Chinese prisoner of the 1962 war, now in his seventies, to meet his family five decades after capture is lost in red tape.
Both the countries for and against which he fought a battle seem to have discarded the old man in his late 70’s, Wang Qi, who was nabbed along India’s eastern frontiers in January 1963, weeks after the Indo-Sino war.
Since 2014, the 77-year-old Qi, who is now better known by his alias Raj Bahadur, has been seeking permission from New Delhi as well as Beijing, to allow him to travel to China to meet his three brothers and two sisters. But so far neither of the governments has paid any heed to his desire.
Qi was recruited in Chinese Army in 1960 and fought the war against India in 1962.
In January 1963, he was caught by the Indian Red Cross Society and handed over to the Indian Army in Assam.
Qi then spent six years in jails across India, including Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, before being released in March 1969 and handed over to Madhya Pradesh police for rehabilitation in Balaghat district’s Tirodi. Since then the nondescript town has been Qi’s adopted home. After sustained efforts, he was issued a Chinese passport (passport number: G54188589) by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi in 2013.
While applying for permission to travel to China in 2014, he even promised to return to India to stay with his Indian wife and other members of his family.
But despite making all efforts to travel to his birthplace at least once, Qi’s quest seems to have been lost in “official procedures” in New Delhi.
I have heard a lot about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj helping foreign nationals, stuck in India, return to their homeland. I pray with folded hands to the two leaders to help me also return to my siblings in China – Qi
“I was the most loved child of my mother, who passed away in 2006. Three years later one of my nephews Wang Yin Chun met me in New Delhi with the help of an interpreter. The meeting kindled hopes of seeing my kin in China again. Since 2014, I am trying to get permission to travel to China. But now it seems a pipedream,” he added with lumps in his voice and tears in eyes.
His attempt to get Indian citizenship too was unsuccessful. Other members of his family though are Indian citizens by birth.
Qi’s son Vishnu, an accountant with a private firm, said a few months back the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi called them to inform that Indian side was still considering his father’s case.
“We have been asked to wait with patience,” he added.
“But no worthwhile development has taken place since then, except for Chinese authorities informing us that Indian authorities might grant him permission to travel to China provided he is ready to stay back there and not return to India,” Vishnu said.
Both inspector general (intelligence) at police headquarters (Bhopal) Makrand Deuskar and Balaghat SP Amit Sanghi said the travel permission was not granted by officials in New Delhi since certain documents pertaining to his stay in India from 1963 to 2013 were not available.