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Missing in Action

Nominated | Book Awards 2020 | English Non-fiction

Missing in Action

Full Title: Missing in Action: The Prisoners Who Never Came Back

Author: Chander Suta Dogra
Publisher: Harper Collins India

Award Category: English Non-fiction
About the Book: 

The story of India's soldiers missing in action is one that remains unfinished, a spillover of the wars with Pakistan. These are men who went missing in enemy territory while on daring missions during the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars. The nation has forgotten them, though successive governments continue to make token acknowledgements about their missing status. Over the last five decades, there have been scattered reports offering information piecemeal, but this is the first time the saga has been fully told. The result of years of research, the book unearths startling revelations that shed new light on the subject. Amid much hearsay and dismissive commentary, this book is an attempt to find answers to the question, 'What happened to these men?' It also hopes to open up a debate on how soldiers are often used as pawns by governments, even as they pay lip-service to their cause.

About the Author: 

Chander Suta Dogra is a journalist and author. Her first book, Manoj and Babli, explored the tough road to justice for victims of honour killings. She has worked for various publications, including Outlook, Indian Express, Hindu and Hindustan Times. She writes on politics, governance, defence, gender and human rights.


This is a richly researched and profoundly moving book. Through her fine-grained reportage, Chander Suta Dogra vividly brings to the fore the anguish of the families whose loved ones went missing in war, as well as the apathy of officials and governments on both sides of the border. Through these individual stories of heroism and despair, the book also throws fresh light on the wider history of warfare and diplomacy in South Asia. —Ramachandra Guha, author and historian

Missing in Action is a deeply researched work, with startling insights into the issue of India’s missing soldiers. It is a comprehensive book about a neglected aspect of our wars with Pakistan and how the worlds of prisoners of war and spies intersect. —A.S. Dulat, former chief of R&AW

Unacknowledged by Pakistan, the fate of fifty-four missing Indian prisoners of war still remains a mystery. For their next of kin unable to find closure, the heart-wrenching trauma is still raw. Prime Minister Vajpayee personally raised this issue with his counterpart Nawaz Sharif, when they met in Lahore. Pakistan, however, remained evasive in the face of the evidence presented. This book reflects the determination to never forget these brave men in uniform, while expressing admiration for the courage and fortitude of their family members. —G. Parthasarathy, diplomat and author

If there is a tragedy in India’s military history, it is the callousness with which we returned the 93,000 Pakistani POWs in 1972. Not a thought was given to the Indians in Pakistan’s captivity, especially the fifty-four soldiers who did not return and were not accounted for. Indian officialdom, the political, diplomatic and military leadership, failed its men in uniform and forced their families to suffer one of the worst possible traumas. Chander Suta Dogra writes on a most sensitive subject and forces one to rethink the ethical aspects of war in the subcontinent. This is a very timely and conscience-shaking piece of work. —Lt Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), former GOC of 15 Corps

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