NEW DELHI: The US has sought the Centre’s permission to resume search operations for retrieving the remains of US soldiers, who were killed in air crashes in the northeast during the Second World War.
Official sources said a formal request was made during Monday’s India-US political-military dialogue, which was attended by senior diplomats and defence officials from both the countries.
The US delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro, told Indian officials that Washington would like to revive the search operations, which had been called off in 2009.
Meanwhile, official sources said that India was open to the US proposal. “We are open to the possibility of agreeing to the proposal,” sources said. Hundreds of soldiers went missing in the region known as the “hump” -- the eastern end of the Himalayas. In the US Army parlance, the region has been called the “China-Burma-India” theatre of operations.
According to the US military’s Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC), over 400 defence personnel remained unaccounted in the region, though it was not clear in which country their remains could be found. The JPAC teams had conducted searches thrice in India in 2008 and 2009. Indian Government sources said that at least 94 soldiers were believed to have lost their lives in air crashes that occurred in the region. “This is an emotive issue for them. We are willing to consider it as a humanitarian issue,” said a senior official. The US officials told their Indian interlocutors that similar operations to recover remains had already been carried out in China and there were plans to extend them to Myanmar.