Pakistan returns 7-yr-old with new dress, candies

On March 29, Pooja Meghwal, daughter of Sukhram, had gone out with her brothers and sisters to graze their cattle. Near Neilkanth border post she crossed the zero line and entered into Pakistani territory.

She was returned to her family on Monday after Indian security forces got in touch with Pakistani rangers. Every year, hundreds are arrested for straying across the border and securing their release is difficult owing to Indo-Pak hostility.

Trespassing: Often children playing near the border area stray into Pakistan territory and securing their release is difficult owing to the hostility between the two nations. File Pic

Pooja’s family lives in a small village in Bikaner district, just 2 km (1.2 miles) from the India-Pakistan border fence.

“After she went missing, we were worried, but we were hopeful because we believed that no one would harm an innocent child,” said the village head.

On Monday night, Pooja returned wearing new clothes and shoes and she had also been given toffees by Pakistani rangers, police said.

“It was an emotional moment for her family when the girl returned and was reunited with them. Her mother hugged and blessed her,” a police officer said.

Soon after getting the custody of Pooja, the BSF authorities took her to a hospital at an Indian post in Bikaner. The doctors found her in good health.

The happy villagers distributed sweets to celebrate her safe return.

Police said Pooja had crossed over into Pakistan from a breach in the fence. They said they found her footprints going across the border while searching for her.

The police informed the paramilitary Border Security Force officials who raised the issue with the Pakistani rangers. On her return, Pooja said she had walked a long way before she came across a hut where she fell asleep.

“She said later some people came and took her away. The girl said she had been well cared for on the other side,” the village head added.

Hundreds of Indians and Pakistanis accidentally go across the border and negotiations for their release are usually lengthy and difficult because of the hostile relations between the neighbours. 

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