‘Dead’ man in legal battle to prove he’s alive

KHARAR, PUNJAB: Sital Singh Bagi’s life sounds like a script of a Bollywood masala flick.

The 67-year-old ex-IAF man has been fighting a nine-year legal battle to prove that he is the “real” Sital Singh Bagi and not “dead” as his family had got him declared after he fled home allegedly to escape terrorists and did not surface for a decade.

A retired warrant officer of Indian Air Force (IAF), Bagi claimed he was settled with his family and owned a milk dairy in Delhi when three terrorists confronted him in December 1987 and asked him to join their group.

The terrorists threatened to kill him and a terrorized Bagi left his wife and four children at his ancestral house in Gurdittpura village in Patiala and fled, he claimed.

Bagi said he went to Orissa, where he spent 3-4 years, and then moved to Kolkata, before going to Dhaka in Bangladesh, where he became a priest at Gurdwara Nanak Shahi.

Bagi said he returned to his native place in December 1998 as he was “no longer afraid”, but his wife refused to recognize him and so did his children.

They also threatened him with “dire consequences”, if he again approached them, Bagi alleged.

He then went to the IAF authorities for release of his pension, but was shocked when he was told that his name was struck off the pension rolls and his wife was getting the pension after she produced a court decree declaring him dead.

Bagi moved a civil court in Rajpura in 1999 to get the decree declared null and void and for restoration of pension.

Though the court prevented Bagi’s wife from further withdrawing the family pension it reserved its order on the previous court decree pronounced in November 1996.

IAF officer incharge (Pensions) Wg Cdr P.R. Sudhakar said that Bagi had “reappeared” but his pension could not be restored till a decision on the civil suit comes.

In a statement filed before the court, the IAF officials had not disputed the identity of Bagi while Naseeb Kaur said that she cannot say that plaintiff is same Sital Singh with whom she got married.

Though Bagi’s claim was corroborated by Gurdittpura village sarpanch Mohan Singh and two other villagers in court, Bagi’s wife and children have yet to conclude their evidence.

Bagi’s counsel Rajinder Singh Raju said the case is in advanced stage and February 15 has been fixed as next date of hearing. “We have produced documentary and physical evidence beyond any doubt to prove that Bagi is alive,” Raju said.

Bagi also filed a complaint before Patiala police in July 2008 against his wife and sons seeking criminal action but the police asked him to pursue his case in the court.

Left with no source of income or shelter, Bagi is now being taken care of by one of his old service mates in Chamkaur Sahib, near Ropar.

“I procured evidence of several of my service colleagues and native village head, but I’m still waiting for the court order,” he rued.

However, Naseeb says, “I got married to Sital Singh and two sons were born from our wedlock but I cannot say this man is my husband or not.”

“My husband disappeared in 1987. I lodged his missing report with the police and after he failed to appear, I got a police investigation report certifying that he could not be traced despite their best efforts.”

Source: The Times of India

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