February 2008 News

BSF Returns Straying Pakistan Soldiers

11 February 2008
Telegraph India

Srinagar: Three Pakistani soldiers held for straying into Indian territory yesterday were handed over to Pakistan border guards this afternoon in a goodwill gesture. Nasir, Amjad and Shahid Zia-ul Shah of 19 Punjab were arrested by the BSF and remained in its custody for 21 hours. J.B. Sangwan, the force’s DIG (intelligence) in Jammu, said they had “inadvertently crossed over”. “Nothing incriminating was found and they were handed over to the Pakistan Rangers (border guards) during a flag meeting on the international border,” he added. At the meeting in Ranbir Singh Pora around 3pm, the Indian delegation led by BSF deputy inspector general G.S. Virk lodged a strong protest against the incident. “The (Pakistan) rangers were told to be careful and brief their men about the place,” Sangwan said. No FIR was lodged, a norm in such trespassing cases. “We didn’t lodge a case because the BSF told us the three would be handed back to Pakistan,’’ a police officer said. Normally, a case is registered, investigations are carried out and the trespassers booked according to the crime. A BSF official said the three soldiers were interrogated by their officers and Intelligence Bureau sleuths. “They turned out to be sepoys and part of the Pakistan army’s kabbadi and wrestling teams.” They were unarmed and in civil clothes when they were caught. A sum of Rs 17,000 (Pakistani) was found on them, the official said. The 200km border in Jammu and Kashmir is often used by illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to cross over to Pakistan. Dozens are arrested every year and many are languishing in the state’s jails. But incidents of soldiers straying are rare. Yesterday’s arrest was the first such case since the two countries declared a ceasefire four years back. Death-row Indian An Indian sentenced to death for spying and who turned a mental wreck after languishing in a Lahore prison for 35 years will be soon released by Pakistan, a minister said here today. Kashmir Singh was discovered by federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney at Central Jail, Lahore, after a nationwide search. The father of three, who was arrested in 1973 in Pakistan, was now “weak, old and mentally disabled” as he had “never received a single visitor or even seen the open sky, sun or moon”, Burney said.

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