NEW DELHI: Pakistan on Tuesday freed Bimal Narjere, a teenager from Assam who had inadvertently strayed across the border into Pakistan in August last year.
Describing it as a goodwill gesture, Pakistani authorities said the Pakistan Rangers who had apprehended the 16-year-old had alerted India’s Border Security Force and initiated an enquiry at the time. India too had initiated an inquiry, and after the boy’s bonafides were established by both sides, and after “completion of all legal requirements and verification of the Indian citizen’s identity,” he was handed over to BSF personnel at Wagah Border on Tuesday.
Under an agreement signed in 2008, India and Pakistan share lists of prisoners in each other’s nations twice a year on January 1 and July 1. As per the latest list, Pakistan has 54 civilian prisoners and 483 fishermen in its custody who are Indians or believed-to-be-Indians, while India says it has 249 Pakistan civilian prisoners and 98 fishermen in its custody. It is not known yet whether Bimal was on the Pakistani list shared on January 1.
India has proposed that the two nations work out a protocol under which elders, women and children and those with mental issues be processed and freed on a priority basis. There have been cases of prisoners languishing in jails in both nations even after serving their sentences due to difficulties in confirming their nationality.