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ABDULLAH Shah (third right) and Mohammad Imran Qureshi Warsi gesture as they prepare to cross the India-Pakistan border at Wagah on Wednesday. Indian authorities said the two Pakistanis were granted their freedom as a goodwill gesture.—AFP
ABDULLAH Shah (third right) and Mohammad Imran Qureshi Warsi gesture as they prepare to cross the India-Pakistan border at Wagah on Wednesday. Indian authorities said the two Pakistanis were granted their freedom as a goodwill gesture.—AFP

LAHORE: India handed over on Wednesday two Pakistani citizens to the Punjab Rangers at the Wagah border crossing.

Abdullah Shah, 21, belongs to Mingora, while Mohammed Imran Qureshi Warsi, 36, hails from Karachi.

According to the Press Trust of India, Abdullah was detained in Attari in 2017 and charged with crossing over without any documents, while Warsi spent around a decade in a Bhopal jail on charges of “forgery and spying” after coming to India in 2004.

Abdullah said he had come to witness the Retreat ceremony at the border, when he jumped over and crossed the Zero Line after the ceremony, telling Border Security Force officials that he wanted to meet Indian film star Shahrukh Khan.

“It was my childhood dream to come to India and meet Shahrukh Khan,” he said before repatriation on Wednesday.

He said that since his dream had not been fulfilled this time, he would come back again to meet the star.

Warsi had come to India with proper documents to meet his uncle in Kolkata where he married the latter’s daughter Shazia. The couple had two children. He stayed on in Kolkata for four years despite the expiry of his visa.

He had also allegedly obtained a ration card and some other documents during his stay.

In 2008, he was on his way to Bhopal to get a passport when he was arrested by the police. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail and was to be released on Jan 19, 2018.

A Rangers’ official said that Warsi was later sent to a guardian centre in Bhopal in March this year after it transpired that he had become mentally unstable.

A social activist, Syed Abid Hussain, took up his case with the Pakistani High Commission, seeking help to secure his release.

Warsi told the media at the border that he was very happy as he would be able to meet his parents and siblings who live in Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal area. He plans to take his family to Pakistan through proper legal recourse.

Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2018