No matter the boundaries we draw, love sure finds its way. This love story too, made its way across the border but didn’t really see the ending it hoped for.
A young Pakistani couple who crossed into India this month with hopes in their eyes have been handed back to the Pakistani Rangers.
Akbar Ali and Zarina had crossed over in the second week of this month, hand in hand, through one of the gaps in the fence near Border Outpost 1106.
In the Rann of Kutch, the border outposts aren’t known by a name because there is no habitation on the Indian side of the border. No one lives here except the BSF.
“They didn’t try to sneak in but were shouting at the top of their voice to catch the attention of the Border Security Force guards,” a BSF jawan recalled. The BSF took them in but a few hours of questioning convinced them, and the other intelligence agencies, that this was just a love story gone wrong, not an espionage case.
A tailor, Akbar Ali, 28, and Zarina, 20, were in love. But the headman of their village, Thor, just two km from the border had been trying to force her to marry his son. Akbar didn’t let go and had been beaten up a day or so earlier.
That is when they decided to run away, across the fence into India. “They said they believed India would do them justice... That they would be killed if we handed them back,” an officer who interrogated them recalled.
Local officers promptly reported the incident to their superiors for a decision.
But there was little that the BSF could do.
It could hand them over to the local police who would book them for illegal crossing, and after they serve their jail term, send them back to Pakistan. Or it could seek a flag meeting with the local commander of the Pakistani Rangers and hand them back to him. Either ways, the BSF couldn’t help them be together. The BSF decided the second option.
The village headman was an influential man, just as Akbar Ali had said. The Pakistani Rangers too had been looking for him and promptly took away the couple after the 5-minute long flag meeting. “We don’t know what happened to them. If they are still alive,” said a BSF officer.
The BSF’s Gujarat Sector Inspector General AK Sinha said the decision also took into account how the Pakistani Rangers had cooperated with India and returned the 7-year-old Pooja Meghwal, who had inadvertly crossed into Pakistan in Rajasthan’s Jaisalmer.