LAHORE: A Pakistani citizen, who had crossed the Wagah Border when he was 11 years old, returned home after spending 25 years in India.
Siraj-ud-din was released from an Indian prison on Monday and handed over to the Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) by Border Security Force officials of the neighbouring country at noon the same day.
He had managed to secure his release from the prison in India after the Ansar Burney Trust pursued his case and helped bring him back to Pakistan.
An official told Dawn that as soon as Siraj entered Pakistan’s territory, he burst into tears while recalling his parents and childhood.
Siraj had run away from his home in Mansehra district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa when he was only 11 years old.
He had made it to Lahore, hoping to continue his journey all the way to Karachi by train, but accidentally took a train to India.
The official said that after spending a great deal of time in India, Siraj married a woman from a Muslim family in 2005.
Later in 2009, Siraj presented himself before the police and expressed a desire to return to Pakistan along with his family. However, upon finding out that he was a Pakistani citizen with no legal documents, the police sent him to jail.
During his years in India, Siraj had fathered three children. After his incarceration, he attempted to secure his release by approaching the Indian High Court several times.
An Indian NGO had also fought for Siraj’s right to Indian citizenship but was unable to make that possible. After his case was highlighted by a section of the Indian media, the Ansar Burney Trust took up the matter with Indian and Pakistani authorities, and requested that Siraj be brought back home.
After arriving in Pakistan, Siraj was sent to the Edhi Welfare Organisation, the official said, adding that even though he was back in his country, Siraj has been pining for his wife, two twin sons and a daughter who remain in India.
When contacted, Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) spokesperson Maj Sher Azam said he was not in a position to give an official confirmation of Siraj’s case.
Published in Dawn, March 14th, 2018