M A I N   N E W S

Repatriation of Pak prisoners postponed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Wagah, April 13
For Mohammad Yunus, a resident of Haiwalbagh, who had strayed into the Indian side while grazing his cattle in 1997, the postponement of repatriation to his country, for the second time in three years, has come as a rude shock. Earlier, his repatriation was fixed in 2001.

He is one of the 22 Pakistani prisoners, including seven lodged in Amritsar’s Central Jail, who could not be repatriated for want of Emergency Certificates. It was more disturbing for their families who were anxiously waiting for them across the Wagah Joint Check Post, with garlands in their hands.

However, it was more disappointing for the prisoners from J&K’s high security jail who had reached Amritsar in the morning after a night-long journey. The “communication gap” had caused a lot of avoidable botheration to the prisoners and their family members across the border. Most of the prisoners had been languishing in various jails of Punjab, Rajasthan and J&K even after the serving their sentence. The Baisakhi gift turned out to be a sour experience for them, at least for yet another day. As per official record, most of the prisoners had been lodged in jails after straying into India inadvertently.

The Border Security Force and its Pakistani counterpart — the Sutlej Rangers and district administrations of both countries had made elaborate arrangements for the event. Mr Avtar Henry, Punjab Minister, Deputy Commissioner and a number of officers were present on the occasion.

According to Mr Waryam Singh, SDM, Amritsar, the 22 Pakistani prisoners would be kept in Amritsar’s high security Central Jail for the night before being repatriated tomorrow. When asked about the postponement of repatriation, he said despite repeated attempts, the communication being faxed by the Pakistan’s High Commission regarding the Emergency Certificates of the prisoners, was found to be mutilated. It was after the Retreat Ceremony, that the administration took the decision to postpone the repatriation till tomorrow.

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