Updated: May 3, 2018 6:47:50 pm
An ailing Indian man, who had inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan’s Sindh province in 2013, was released from a Karachi jail after five years and taken to Wagah border where he was received by Red Cross officials on Thursday. However, no one from his family was present at Attari-Wagah border where a Red Cross ambulance was waiting for him, just few metres away from the ‘zero line’.
Twenty-one-year-old Jetindaera Arjanwara, who hails from Madhya Pradesh, is suffering from a blood disorder, sickle cell anaemia, which requires regular blood transfusion. He spent five years in Pakistan jails after he inadvertently crossed over to the neighboring country, across the Rajasthan desert, and entered Sindh province in 2013.
On Thursday, Jetindaera entered into India by crossing zero line at around 1 pm and then spent around 45 minutes inside the Integrated Check Post (ICP). After completing the formalities, he was directly taken to Guru Nanak Hospital in Amritsar. He was given required medical aide and food while he was waiting for his family and an official from his home state Madhya Pradesh.
A Madhya Pradesh government protocol officer, Sunil Kumar reached the hospital at 3:30 pm, but no family member could come along with him. However, Kumar said that he would like to take Jetindaera along with him and his family would reach Delhi in the meantime. The ailing youth will meet his family for the first time in five years.
Jetindaera said that he had left home over some domestic dispute and was under mental pressure, when he reached Rajasthan, and unknowingly crossed into Pakistan.
“I was picked up by four men who tied my hands, covered my eyes and took me to an unknown place. It was only after the initial interrogation that I came to know I was in Pakistan. After that, I was kept in different jails,” he said.
“Soon after my arrest in Pakistan, I started facing health problems. I was given treatment in several Pakistani hospitals. I couldn’t talk my family members during all these years,” he said.
“I only came to know about my release few hours before I was taken out of Karachi jail at 3 am on May 3. I was first taken to Lahore via air from where I was taken to Wagah by road,” he added.
Jetindaera was seen walking with the support of a stick. Sunil Kumar, the MP government official said, “If doctors give permission, I would like to take him to Delhi to admit in AIIMS. We have a guest house there. His brother may also reach there. His native place is 130 km from Jabalpur.”
Jetindaera’s release comes after a month-long coordinated campaign by both Pakistani and Indian civil society activists. His repatriation was earlier confirmed by the Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad.
The decision to release Jetindaera was taken after intervention by a Pakistani barrister, Haya Zahid, who was briefed about his case by Hyderabad juvenile jail officials in Sindh province in 2014. Zahid was at that time inspecting sanitary conditions in provincial jails as part of a government-mandated committee. Jetindaera, who was a teenager at the time, had already completed the customary jail sentence by then.
Jetindaera’s release comes close on the heels of 23-year-old Dalwinder Singh being handed back to the BSF on Sunday, after he had inadvertently crossed over last March at Kasur’s Ballanwala village on the other side of the border. He was sent back by Pakistan over the weekend after having served time in a Pakistani jail.
Jetindaera’s release was, however, much delayed. While he was picked up in 2013, for the next four years, through the highs and lows of the India-Pakistan relationship, Jetindaera became another statistic — one of 58 Indian civil prisoners that Pakistan says reside in its jails, forgotten by mostly everybody (India has 56 Pakistani civil prisoners in its jail, the Supreme Court was recently told.) Until Zahid, once again, spotted him in February 2018, on one of her many rounds, this time in Malir jail in Karachi.
By 2018, Jetindaera was seriously ill. Doctors at Malir jail insisted his condition be brought to the notice of the Pakistani government as well as Indian officials. The Indian High Commission in Pakistan later formally asked for his repatriation.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani government “decided to release/repatriate Jetindaera Arjanwara s/o Ishura Parshad, an Indian prisoner (civil) on 4th May 2018.” He was released one day in advance, on May 3.
With ENS inputs
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