Surjeet Singh, who spent more than 30 years in Pakistan's captivity, got a hero's welcome at his village, Fidda, 38 km from Ferozepur, on Thursday after his release at the Attari-Wagha border.
Dhol, bhangra, sweets… but it was the tears of reunion that made the joy complete for the Indian spy and his family. Even the village's surroundings appreared colourful since morning, with villagers dancing to the beats of dhol, eager to receive Surjeet. The moment he reached the main crossing of Talwandi Bhai on the Moga road, his well-wishers greeted him with slogans, siropas, and honours.
"By the grace of the Almighty, I have reunited with my family after three decades," said Surjeet Singh, his voice choked with emotion. "In the last 30 years, Indian authorities never reached out to my dear ones but thanks to all the relatives and villagers who did."
Years of battle to get his father released over, Kulwinder Singh couldn't believe his luck. "It appears a dream, if not a miracle," said Harbans Kaur, Surjeet's wife.
Surjeet's release came after a high-voltage midnight drama in which Pakistan first announced it would free Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, but hours later a presidential spokesman clarified that the order was for the release of Surjeet instead.