The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Return gift for truce tourists
- Teens set free after straying across border

Suchetgarh (Indo-Pak border), Dec. 3: Trespassers generally land up in jail, especially if they are from an enemy country. But at times, they go back with a song on their lips.

Rashid Ahmad and Sikander Hayat, two Pakistani teenagers, could have easily gone the way of countless others who have strayed into Indian territory if it hadn’t been for the ceasefire that the estranged midnight twins agreed on last week.

But then, it was the Id truce that drew the two for a first-hand feel.

The boys were intercepted and arrested by the Border Security Force on Monday after they were found in Indian territory. Asked what had brought them to this side, they said it was curiosity about what a fire-free border looked like.

Soon, word was sent to the Pakistan Rangers, who corroborated their version.

“Thereafter, it was decided to send them back on humanitarian grounds,” said BSF commandant Rajesh Gupta.

On November 26, Gupta and his opposite number, Col. Nadeem of Pakistan Rangers, had exchanged sweets on the first day of the ceasefire on Id. This time, too, Col. Nadeem came to receive the boys.

“We are very happy to return. We thank Indian authorities and specially those who treated us well in prison here,” Rashid said before he and Sikander walked to freedom across the international border to their native hamlet in Pakistan’s Sialkot district.

“Freedom has come to us so fast due to humanity shown by the government of India,” the 16-year old, in an off-white Pathan suit, added. Sikander, 18, in a navy blue suit, nodded.

The two then broke into a song — Na kajre ki dhar, na motiyon ka haar, a hit Bollywood number — as television cameras focused on their smiling faces.

But if freedom came fast for the boys, reporters and cameramen who had gathered to capture the “goodwill gesture” would not let them go so easily.

Some in the crowd wanted them to sing another song. The boys obliged with Dekha hai sajan ka pyar.

Before they left, Rashid, who works in a dairy farm with Sikander, left one message for the Indian and Pakistan governments.

He urged them to release those imprisoned in their jails as a goodwill gesture. “As India did in my case,” he said.

Pakistani Rangers have promised to “reciprocate” India’s gesture.

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