New Delhi: While it is snowing heavily in Himalayas, the ice seems to be melting as far as India-Pakistan relationship is concerned. After months of acrimony and hostilities between the two neighbors, sanity seems to be returning back.
In a significant development that indicates towards serious behind the scene dialogues, Pakistan yesterday released Indian Army soldier, Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan. India had claimed that the soldier had “inadvertently” crossed the Line of Control (LoC) in September 2016.
Latest reports suggest that Chandu Babulal Chavan was handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah-Attari joint check post. Later the BSF officials handed him to Army authorities.
The news of the soldier’s return has brought joy to his kin and residents of his native village Bohivir in northern Maharashtra. Chavan, 22, of 37 Rashtriya Rifles, was taken into custody by Pakistan Army after he “inadvertently” crossed the Line of Control (LoC) from Krishna Ghati sector in Jammu and Kashmir on September 29 last year.
In the meantime Pakistan Army spokesperson Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said in a statement that Chavan “deserted his post at the LOC due to his grievances of maltreatment against his commanders…He wilfully crossed LOC on September 29, 2016 and surrendered himself to Pakistan Army”.
The Pakistani official went on to add, “as a gesture of goodwill and in continuation of our efforts to maintain peace and tranquility along LoC and IB (International Border), Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan has been convinced to return to his own country and will be handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah Border on humanitarian grounds.”
It is said that the incident took place just hours after the Indian forces carried out surgical strikes on September 29 across the Line of Control to destroy terrorist launch pads. The Indian Army said that they had got confirmation by Pakistan military authorities that Chavan would be handed over at 3 p.m. and the soldier was finally handed over.
A statement released by the Indian Army said “Sep Chandu Babulal Chavan crossed over to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir from own Krishna Ghati sector on September 29. In order to ensure his release the matter was taken up with Pakistani Military authorities through the existing hotline and scheduled DGMO level talks”. Indian Army sources said that Chavan will go through a medical check up and will be subsequently debriefed. They said that since the soldier was coming from a “hostile nation”, the army will have to check for any radicalisation that might have happened. Debriefing will help know what the soldier might have been subjected to, sources added.