For hapless parents of Nanak Singh, who was just seven when he inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan in 1984 from his border village, the longing for a glimpse of their son has become a never-ending wait. That day in 1984, Nanak was playing with his father in the agriculture fields of Channa Bedi border village from where Pakistan was within a stone’s throw distance.
“While playing in the field he stepped into Pakistan and forgot the directions. He got lost in agriculture fields,” said Rattan Singh, the father, tears rolling down his cheeks.
There was no border security barbed fence in 1984, so it was easy to stray over to Pakistan, says Keshav Kohli, who runs the NGO, Independent Student Federation.
“Nanak was handed over to the Pakistan Police by some Pak national. Then he was thrown into the prison and he never came out,” says the father.
He said, for the first few years, the family had lost all hope knowing not where their child had disappeared.
They were not even aware their son had crossed over to Pakistan until a police official in 2002, from the Ramdas Police Station where a missing report was filed, informed them about his detention in Pakistan.
Nanak’s parents are economically not very sound and also not educated therefore they did not take legal course to bring their son back.
Says Pyari, the distraught mother, “For the last three decades, I have been visiting the village Gurdwara and praying to waheguru (the almighty) to bring back my innocent kid who would over 37 years old now.”
“It is tough for a mother to live without her son even for a minute but in my case it has been three decades,” she says.
Kohli of the NGO Independent Student Federation says he contacted the External Affairs Ministry seeking its intervene and bringing back Nanak through diplomatic channels.
“The Pakistan government bothered neither about his innocence nor his tender age at the time of his detention. And even the Indian government has not taken any aggressive measure for the repatriation of Nanak,” Kohli told PTI.
Pyari says she has a glimmer of hope that Nanak might come out of Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.
But she says she might not be able to recognise him if he shows up at threshold of her door one day.
“His name figured on the list of prisoners as Kakar Singh, but we were searching for Nanak. The Border Security Force later sent the Pakistani authorities a letter seeking his release, but that didn’t help,” Kohli said.
He said the matter was brought to the notice of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj when they met her around seven months back in Delhi.
He said the Minister assured them of all possible help.
Nanak’s parents would meet Swaraj next month again and seek her help in getting him back, Kohli said.