Many false alarms before Kashmir Singh returns

March 4th, 2008 - 3:42 pm ICT by admin  

Attari Border (Punjab), March 4 (IANS) The arrival of former Indian soldier Kashmir Singh to his homeland Tuesday had several false starts. He was originally scheduled to arrive at this border check post between India and Pakistan at 11 a.m. His family arrived just after 8 a.m. - a full three hours early.

Singh finally crossed into India just after 12.40 p.m. after an hour on the Pakistani side of the border. False alarms of his impending arrival kept media persons here, especially the photographers, on their toes throughout.

That hour on the Pakistani side of the border was largely spent with immigration and border security officials, followed by a press conference right near the zero line. Pakistan’s print and electronic media was present at Wagah in full strength as was the Indian media on this side.

The moment - a historic one for both countries - could change the course of the policy that both countries adopt for people caught in each other’s territory.

Singh’s re-union moment with his wife Paramjit Kaur, son Shishpal and other relatives was not in the sight of the media as it was held inside the briefing room of the Border Security Force (BSF) here.

But before crossing the international border, Singh seemed in no immediate hurry to be back as he hugged his saviour and caretaker human rights minister of Pakistan Ansar Burney and others who accompanied him - some of them his friends during his 35-year-stay in Pakistan prisons.

The Pakistani side clapped as the teary-eyed Kashmir Singh, wearing a light-coloured shirt and trousers, finally stepped into India and turned back to wave back to them one last time - clearly to express his gratitude for giving him a fresh lease of life.

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