Returning inadvertent border-crossers and more: Glimpses of humanity

fauzia-ansari-and-nehal-ansari-parents-of-hamidLast week I wrote this short piece below for Aman ki Asha (hope for peace) after the Indian border security forces returned a young, inadvertent border-crosser to Pakistan. Today, there’s news that the Pakistan government will allow the wife of the Indian national and alleged spy Kulbushan Yadav to meet him “on humanitarian grounds”.

This raises hopes that the parents of another Indian prisoner Hamid Ansari will finally also be allowed to meet him. In fact, as the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy has said, the families of all cross-border prisoners should be given access to their loved ones in prison across the border. 

BSF Satyasheel-Yadav-2014

August 2014: BSF jawan Satyasheel Yadav at a press conference after Pakistan Rangers handed him over to BSF officials. PTI photo.

Nov. 7, 2017: A 12-year-old Pakistani boy apprehended by the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) in Jaisalmer, India, has been handed over to Pakistan Rangers after a flag meeting, reports the Press Trust of India (PTI).

Identified as Asif Haji, the boy was said to be grazing camels when he inadvertently crossed the international border. Held by the BSF’s patrolling team on Monday Nov. 7, 2017, he was repatriated to Pakistan the following day.

bsp-pak-rangers-liva-2016

Indian BSF official hands over 5-year old deaf mute Liva to a Pakistan Rangers official. Photo: courtesy BSF.

There have been several instances in the past of such welcome humanitarian gestures across the international border as well as Line of Control in the disputed region of Kashmir.

On April 30, 2017, India’s BSF handed over 15-year-old Razak Mai to Pakistani authorities. The boy, who hails from Kasur district, had crossed the border accidentally. A BSF spokesperson said that he was the seventh such inadvertent border crosser in Punjab they had sent back to Pakistan so far since the year began.
Other incidents in the past include the following:

In April 2013, Pakistan Rangers handed back 7-year-old Pooja to the BSF at a flag meeting. She had been playing near her father`s farm close to the international border and crossed over to Pakistan on March 29, a BSF official said. Footmarks suggested that she had entered Pakistan territory following which BSF informed their counterparts in Pakistan and the flag meeting was arranged.

In August 2014, Pakistan Rangers rescued a BSF jawan from the River Chenab and handed him back to India. Satyasheel Yadav had fallen into the river and been swept into Pakistani territory by the strong currents.

AJK-nasreen-BSF-2014

December 2014: Pakistan Army officials handed over 12-year-old Nasreen to their Indian counterparts. File photo.

In another instance in 2014, Pakistan Army officials in December handed over to the Indian authorities 12-year-old Nasreen, an Indian Kashmiri girl who had inadvertently crossed the Line of Control (LoC). Daughter of Afzal, a resident of Sahura village, Kashmir, she said she enjoyed her three-day stay in Pakistan where she was cared for like a daughter.

In July 2015, Indian Army officials handed over 11-year-old Sameer Kayani, who had strayed across the LoC, to their counterparts in Pakistan.

In March 2016, the BSF handed over a five-year-old deaf and mute Pakistan girl named Liva who inadvertently crossed over into Punjab on the Indian side. Hailing from Sadiq village in Kasur district, located close to the Khemkaran sector in Punjab, she was returned to her father Allah Ditta.

Meanwhile, cross-border prisoners on both sides continue to suffer even after they have completed their jail sentences, due to delays in paperwork on either side that prevent their immediate repatriation.

— Beena Sarwar

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