March 2004 News

Innocents crossing India, Pak borders wonít be jailed

28 March 2004
The Daily Excelsior
Daily Excelsior Correspondent

WAGAH: In yet another manifestation of Indo-Pak thaw, the border residents of the two countries will not be jailed if they enter each otherís territory inadvertently. 'We have reached an understanding with Pakistan that if any innocent civilian from either country inadvertently enters the territory of his neighbour, he will not be put behind bars but will be returned to the authorities of the nation concerned,' Inspector General Border Security Force (BSF) G S Gill said yesterday on his return from Pakistan after attending a bi- annual meeting with his counterparts in Lahore. 'In case a Pakistani national mistakenly crosses his territory and enters into Indian territory he would be handed over to Pakistan only after his antecedents are thoroughly verified and a similar line of action would also be adopted by Pakistan too', he said here. In the past, many teenaged children from Pakistan crossed into Indian territory unintentionally and were later sent back, but not before spending sometime in jail. Meanwhile, curbing of cross-border terrorism, drug smuggling and infiltration were also discussed at the biennial meeting between Pakistani rangers and BSF in Lahore this week. 'All border-related problems will now be discussed on daily basis during flag meetings,' Gill, who headed a 13-member delegation to Pakistan, said. The joint patrolling, resumed last year, was showing 'good results on both sides', he said adding if any innocent person crosses the International Border he would not be punished but sent back after verifying his antecedents. 'All Sikh youths in Pakistani jails will soon be repatriated to India which will reciprocate by sending back 31 Pakistani nationals,' Gill said. The four-day meeting, which began on March 24 and took place for the first time since the terrorist attack on Parliament in December 2001, decided to render all kind of cooperation on a reciprocal basis. It was also decided to instill a sense of security among people living in border villages by maintaining a peaceful atmosphere on borders, Gill said. The Pakistani side was led by Maj Gen Hussain Mehdi. The BSF and Pakistani rangers have agreed to tone down their 'aggressive postures' during the routine beating the retreat ceremony, Gill said. During the meeting in Lahore, Pakistani rangers agreed with the BSF to 'bring gradual changes in the beating the retreat ceremony,' which is witnessed by thousands of visitors here daily, he said. 'The ceremony, being performed over the last many decades had gradually started adopting aggressive postures.' However, he said it requires some time before the changes are implemented. (PTI)


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