Pakistan sent back on Saturday an Indian soldier who crossed the Line of Control last year, adding that he had been “convinced to return to his own country” on humanitarian grounds.
Chandu Babulal Chavan had crossed over in September last year as tensions rose following a cross-border raid that India said it carried out against militants.
“Despite Indian belligerence, Pakistan believes in peaceful neighbourhood and rejects all actions aimed at undermining regional peace and security,” a release by Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs said.
An Indian Army official had earlier said such incidents of people including civilians crossing the frontier by mistake have happened in the past from both sides and those who strayed are returned.
“As a gesture of goodwill and in continuation of our efforts to maintain peace and tranquillity along LOC and WB, Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chohan has been convinced to return to his own country... on humanitarian grounds,” Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press release.
Chavan was handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border at 2.30pm.
A defence official said the 22-year-old soldier from 37 Rashtriya Rifles had inadvertently crossed the de-factor border in Kashmir hours after India’s surgical strikes on terrorist bases across the LoC. Chavan belongs to Borvihir village in Dhule district of Maharashtra.
The Pakistan Army had earlier informed its Indian counterpart that it is not aware of Chavan’s whereabouts. Under a bilateral arrangement, soldiers who inadvertently cross the LoC are handed over to their side.
Chavan’s family has been under stress since the news of his disappearance broke on September 29 last year — his grandmother died of a heart attack two days later. Chavan’s parents died when he was two years old and his grandmother Lilabai took care of her two grandsons.