5-yr-old Nanak strayed into Pak in 1984: Family still waiting for his return | punjab | Hindustan Times
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5-yr-old Nanak strayed into Pak in 1984: Family still waiting for his return

Living just a-kilometre-and-a-half from the international border, this family is waiting to reunite with its eldest son who strayed into Pakistan 32 years ago.

punjab Updated: Jun 08, 2016 00:02 IST
Aseem Bassi
Nanak Singh’s mother Pyari showing his photo at her house at Shanna Bedi village near Ajnala in Amritsar district on Monday.
Nanak Singh’s mother Pyari showing his photo at her house at Shanna Bedi village near Ajnala in Amritsar district on Monday.(Gurpreet Singh/HT Photo)

For Nanak Singh’s parents, international boundaries do more than just separate countries. Sometimes, they gobble up loved ones.

Nanak was just seven years old in 1984, when he playfully chased his father through the fields and ended up crossing the India-Pakistan border. It was an understandable mistake, given that their house in Shanna Bedi village was located barely two kilometres from the border.

The Pakistani authorities, however, seemed to care neither for his innocence nor his tender age. Nanak’s parents haven’t seen him since then.

Nanak must be 39 today, and his parents don’t know if they will recognise him if he shows up at their doorstep one day. “My only wish is to see him before I die,” she says as tears well up in her eyes. “I appeal to the government to help us bring him home.”

She still recalls the day Nanak ran after his father, Rattan Singh, never to come back. “We lodged a police complaint quickly. There was no border security fence then, so it was easy to stray over to the other side. We may be poor and without much influence, but we still have hope,” says Pyari.

For a long time, Nanak’s family was unsure of his whereabouts. But then, in 2002, Ramdas police came over to tell them that he was lodged in a Pakistan jail under a different name – Kakar Singh.

“His name figured on the list of prisoners as Kakar Singh, but we were searching for Nanak. The Border Security Force later sent the Pakistani authorities a letter seeking his release, but that didn’t help. Nanak is the oldest of nine siblings, and the government is our only hope of getting him back,” says his younger brother, Baldev Singh.

The Punjab and Haryana high court’s recent notice to the Centre on a petition to ensure Nanak’s return has come as a ray of hope. “I approached many people, seeking help for this family, but to no avail. Finally, filing a public interest litigation seemed to be the only option left. It has been a long time since Pakistan sent over that list with Kakar Singh’s name in it. I will try and take the family to meet external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj soon,” the petitioner, Swaran Singh, said.