Punjab News Pak releases 17 Indian prisoners

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Amritsar, June 23

The Pakistan Government today released 17 Indian prisoners as a goodwill gesture, a day ahead of Foreign Secretary-level talks to be held in Islamabad.

A majority of them belonging to Punjab, Rajasthan, UP and Tamil Nadu had inadvertently crossed over to the neighbouring country. However, some to them claimed that they had gone there for spying. They revealed a horrifying experience of the alleged torture in different jails, but they also expressed hope to start their life afresh.

They appealed to the Governments of India and Pakistan to take steps for ensuring the return of prisoners who have completed their terms but are still languishing in various jails in two countries due to the indifferent attitude of their governments.

Mohammad Anwar of Rajasthan, who had inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan in 2000, said: “I want to forget all bad things of the past and want to start my life afresh.”

Echoing similar views, Darshan Lal of Jammu and Kashmir said he was not in touch with his family for the past 13 years. “I will first look for my family. It’s a new beginning for me.”

“I have seen about 20 Indians who have lost their mental balance due to their prolonged stay in jails and uncertainty of their future. The governments of both countries should take immediate steps to secure their release,” said Raju Singh of Ajnala, who has returned after serving over two-year term in the Kot Lakhpat Jail.

For Vijay Kumar of Hoshiarpur, four-month term granted for inadvertent crossing prolonged to four years. He alleged, “We used to get a brutal thrashing by the jail authorities whenever we urged them for making a phone call or writing a letter to our family.”

Earlier, it was emotional return for all prisoners who kissed and salute the motherland just after crossing over to this side of border. They thanked both governments for securing their release.
 
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