Barmer: In the special series, 'India's forgotten spies', CNN-IBN heads to border villages in Barmer in Rajasthan. CNN-IBN's Swati Vashishtha met former prisoners and families of those who are still languishing in Pakistan jails.
Lakshmi Devi last saw her husband Bhagu Singh 28 years ago. He strayed across the border, grazing cattle, in 1986. Since then, no letter or phone call has been received, but just the information of his arrest. "I was left to myself to raise the children. Getting firewood, cooking, earning, I had to do it all," Lakshmi said.
The family panicked after Sarabjit Singh's killing, but the government still has no news about where and how Bhagu Singh is. Bhagu Singh's son Arjun Singh said, "Surjit Singh was released and there was news of Indian prisoners being released at the Wagah Border, but my father's name was not on the list."
Beenjaram returned in 2010 after seven years in a Pakistani jail for spying. He is bitter about his family being left in the lurch. "The Gujarat MI sent me, they visited my home twice when I was in jail but offered no help. After that they didn't come. What will the government do," he questioned.
Working informally for the Military Intelligence since 1988, his knowledge of the desert was valuable. The agency allowed Beenja to carry and sell goods across the border. He says it was his only earning. Beenjaram and three other ex-prisoners have now moved court against the agencies that sent them across and took away their best years.