Home they came from Pak jails, Indian Airforce

Home they came from Pak jails

Bhogal Ram with Pakistan Rangers coming from the Pakistan side at the Wagah border

A terrible fate awaits those who are captured by Pakistan, a state which places shamefully low values on its own citizens' lives.

On December 18, 2000, two Indian prisoners, Kharaiti Lal and Bhogal Ram were repatriated by Pakistan. While narrating harrowing experiences, they said hundreds of Indians were languishing in various jails of Pakistan even after completion of their sentence.

"They are kept in isolated cells and given food which is not fit even for human consumption. Many of them have become mentally ill due to torture", they said.

In all, only seven out of 15 Indian prisoners were accepted by Pakistan. The rest could not be accepted due to lack of identification by the Government of Pakistan. However, Pakistan reciprocated with the repatriation of only two Indians as compared to seven released by India.

The seven Pakistanis repatriated by India are Iqbal Ahmed, a resident of Sialkot, Mohamad Rafiq of Muzaffarabad, Mohamad Nawaz, a resident of Gujjranwala, Keser Amin, also of Gujjranwala, Ajju of Sialkot, Brather Ali Khan of Kohistan and Kazim-ur-Rehman, alias Malik.

While both Indian and Pakistani prisoners claimed they were caught by the Border Security Force or Pakistani Rangers while crossing the border without any valid passport or visa, especially in Jammu and Kashmir, yet some of them were reportedly working for intelligence agencies of both the countries. They alleged only a meagre amount was paid by the intelligence agencies for assignments undertaken by them though high risk is involved in this task. At least three prisoners repatriated by India were mentally retarded. They were brought from Jammu and Kashmir under tight security. The repatriation took place before noon at the joint checkpost at Wagah.

Mr Kharaiti Lal, a resident of Rajouri in Jammu and Kashmir, who had spent three years in various jails in Pakistan, said about 64 Indians were languishing in Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, while 11 were lodged in Rawalpindi Jail even after completion of their sentence. More than 30 per cent prisoners had already become mentally retarded due to the shabby treatment given to them in Pakistani jails.

Narrating yet another agonising story of Indian prisoners, Bhogal Ram, another Indian repatriated from Pakistan, said after the death of Indian prisoners in jails Pakistani officials did not cremate them as per Hindu rituals. "The ashes of the dead persons are not sent to their relatives in India", he said.

Bhogal Ram (31), who was sent to Pakistan by some Indian intelligence agency to Pakistan in July 1992, said he was court-marshalled in Pakistan after his arrest. He said he was arrested when he inquired about his "contact person" (Mohammad Salim) from an Army unit in Pakistan. He said since his "contact man" was already arrested due to his alleged links with the Indian intelligence agency, he was immediately taken into custody.

Bhogal Ram said more than 20 Indian prisoners had died as a result of lack of medical aid or proper food during his seven years of imprisonment in various jails of Pakistan.

Kazim-ur-Rehman, alias K.R. Malik, an exporter from Sialkot in Pakistan, was the only well-educated person who was repatriated by India today. He has an interesting story to narrate. Since liquor is banned in Pakistan, he had gone to the countryside to get illicit liquor. He had to cross the border for this when he was caught by the BSF jawans. He said it was his addiction which landed him in an Indian jail for nine years. When asked about his experience in Indian jails he said nobody could expect better treatment when the government still worked according to the jail manual formed by the British. He said he was extremely happy that he would meet his family after nine years. "I never expected that I would rejoin my family again". He said during his jail term many of his near and dear ones had died.

With tears in his eyes he said he could not celebrate 19 Ids due to his stay in Indian jails.

Brather Ali Khan, a resident of Kohistan, openly admitted that he had crossed the Indian border with the intention to preach Islam.

Iqbal Ahmed, a student of class VIII, said he had to cross the border as he had hit his classmate with a cricket bat. He said now after six years of imprisonment he realised his fault and would apologise to his friend on his return to Pakistan.