The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rakhi reunion for Pak teen
- Muneer to take Lahore bus home after a month in captivity

Jaipur, Aug. 9: Pakistani teenager Muneer, who strayed across the border into Rajasthan in June while on way to his uncle’s house to borrow money for his sister’s treatment, will be repatriated on Raksha Bandhan.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee yesterday directed that the 13-year-old be sent back home on Tuesday by the Delhi-Lahore bus, Sada-e-Sarhad. The Centre has asked authorities in Rajasthan to bring Muneer to Delhi by tomorrow. His papers will be readied on Monday and he will board the bus the next day.

Muneer, son of a cowherd in Bahawalpur, Sind, had crossed into India on June 26 on his way to Mochipur.

“I left for my uncle’s place. Twice I asked villagers the way.... I crossed a glade and, the next thing I knew, five men with long guns were asking me my name,” Muneer said, inside the Bikaner children’s home where he was shifted a week ago from a sub-jail.

He had walked into the Border Security Force at Kesrisinghpur in Rajasthan’s Sriganganagar district after crossing the border and was handed over to local police the next day.

Muneer’s biggest problem in India was language. The BSF patrol that picked him up found it difficult to follow his mix of Punjabi and Urdu as did the joint team that interrogated him for five days and the magistrate before whom he was produced.

But Muneer’s endearing innocence ensured that nobody was rude to him. “Nobody hit me, nobody was harsh,” he said, wearing one of the two Pathan suits he was given while in custody.

Asked what he would like to take back with him, Muneer said: “Half a kg of mangoes and the clothes people have gifted me during my stay here. I would like to purchase some clothes for my amma, abbu and brothers and sisters, and a pair of slippers for amma.” But, he added, “I do not have any money.”

He said he did not know that wire fencing divided the two countries. “I did not know that beyond the fencing there was another country. Only now do I know that one cannot cross the border.”

Muneer says the two meals a day he was served at the children’s home were “okay”, as were the 17 other child inmates. There was television at the centre, but provided little entertainment, for Muneer felt “all Hindustani girls look alike”.

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