The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Wedding ‘cycled’ out

Jammu, June 2: His wedding is scheduled for June 15, but Mohammad Ishfaq does not know if he will make it back to his village in Pakistan in time for the event.

Ishfaq is in the custody of Miransahib police station near Jammu after cycling into Indian territory from Pakistan last night. Since he was not stopped anywhere along the way, he had no idea that he had cycled 20 km out of Pakistan into India, from where he will find it difficult to be repatriated.

Had Pakistani Rangers or Indian border guards stopped him en route, Ishfaq would not have been in trouble. With the landscape, the people and even dressing habits so similar on both sides of the border, Ishfaq did not realise he had left his country behind.

“How do I get back and when,” is his constant refrain.

The strapping Ishfaq, in his early 20s, cycled along furiously through good roads, kuccha paths and often through fields to land up in a country where he is treated with suspicion. His words and his intentions are considered suspect.

Says a police officer at Miransahib: “Even if he is innocent and his story real, we have no way of finding out.”

Ishfaq’s biggest regret is that he will miss his marriage. There is no knowing how long he will remain in India.

In recent weeks, many Pakistani youths have crossed over on foot. With Ishfaq following by cycle, police wonder if something sinister is afoot. “They could be spies,” they say.

Ishfaq hates that tag. “Go and verify who I am from my village. I belong to Changi village in Gujranwala,” he tells visiting reporters.

But still, doubts persist.

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