Two Pakistani students detained across LoC return home

March 11, 2017

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LAHORE: Television crew at the Wagah border on Friday train their cameras on the car carrying Faisal Awan and Ahsan Khursheed, the Pakistani students released by India.—Online
LAHORE: Television crew at the Wagah border on Friday train their cameras on the car carrying Faisal Awan and Ahsan Khursheed, the Pakistani students released by India.—Online

LAHORE: Two Pakistani students, who had strayed across the Line of Control (LoC) into India-held Kashmir where they were picked up and investigated for their alleged involvement in the Uri attack, were released by Indian authorities and handed over to their families at the Wagah border crossing on Friday.

Faisal Awan and Ahsan Khursheed, both classmates and students of grade 10, were brought to the Attari-Wagah border, from where they were received by officials of the Pakistan High Commission.

The boys, residents of Muzaffar­abad in Azad Kashmir, had inadvertently crossed the LoC and were arrested by the Indian army on Sept 21, 2016.

Earlier, the Indian media had announced that two boys had been arrested for alleged involvement in the Uri attack, in which 19 Indian soldiers had been killed. Pakistan had denied any links to the attack.

The Indian security agencies later cleared the two teenagers of all charges and approved their release. Indian agencies said that they had not found any link between the Pakistani teenagers and the militants killed by the Indian army in the Uri attack.

The boys’ families met them at the Wagah border on Friday morning.

Ghulam Mohiuddin, Awan’s elder brother, told reporters that he had been in contact with the Indian media and Pakistani High Commission officials who had confirmed that the boys would be released.

He said his family had gone through unimaginable pain when they found out about the allegation against the teenagers. “I thank God that finally they have been proven innocent and have nothing to do with the allegation levelled against them.”

He said both teenagers were friends and had left their homes after an altercation with their parents.

Ahsan’s mother thanked the Pakistani government for helping her family become reunited with her son. She said her family members were happy and she was waiting for her son to take home.

Earlier this month, India authorities released 39 Pakistani prisoners, including 21 civil prisoners and 18 fishermen. Pakistan had also released Indian soldier Chandu Chavan in January as a goodwill gesture.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2017