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For a change bonhomie replaces hostilities on LoC

Winds of peace seems to have started blowing across the Line of Control (LoC) as Pakistan troops handed over a civilian to Indian Army eight months after he “inadvertently” crossed into the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK).

Pakistan Army’s gesture comes at a time when chances have brightened for the release of 22-year-old soldier Chandu Babulal Chauhan, who had inadvertently strayed into PoK, after Indian army’s surgical strikes on the terror launch pads.

Javed Iqbal, a resident of village Bagla in Rajouri district in Jammu, had been missing after he inadvertently crossed the LoC on May 3 2016.

Jammu and Kashmir government and Indian Army had taken up the issue at various levels to seek the release of Javed, who is said to be mentally challenged.

Eight months after, the efforts yielded results, and Pakistan handed him over to Indian Army at Chakan-da-Bagh crossing on the LoC in Poonch sector on Thursday.

“The return of the individual was made possible as a result of continuous pursuance by the Indian Army,” said Lieutenant Colonel Manish Mehta, defence spokesman at Jammu.

District development commissioner, Rajouri, Shabir Ahmad Bhat told DNA that he (Javed) had gone missing after his family members took him to a shrine which is located beyond the LoC fence. “We did not know his whereabouts. But the chances were that he had strayed into the other side of LoC,” he said.

Soon after Javed went missing, the government had launched massive efforts to trace him down. “We had taken up this issue with the army and other forums. We were continuously trying to locate this boy given his health status. I had written to different authorities,” said Bhat.

Other goodwill gestures

Last year in March, Indian Army in a good will gesture had handed over 15-year-old Nadeem Chaudhary, who had strayed into Naushera sector, to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK) authorities in Poonch district. Earlier in December 2015, Pakistani Army had handed over a Jammu and Kashmir youth to the Indian army, six months after he had crossed into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK), in Poonch district of Jammu division.