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Rajasthan man returns from Pak after 27 years to take care of parents, arrested

Hasan Khan sneaked back to India in April this year. Police arrested him last week from a bus stand in Jaisalmer.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2017 23:32 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times, Jaisalmer
Rajasthan,Hasan Khan,Siyalon Ki Basti
Hasan Khan left home and walked over the unfenced border to Pakistan in 1990 to take care of his ailing brother-in-law.(HT Photo)

Rajasthan’s Hasan Khan, 55, and his family have a riveting story. The problem is security agencies do not believe him and their accounts yet.

According to the Khan family of Siyalon Ki Basti village in Jaisalmer district, about 570 km west of state capital Jaipur, Hasan left home and walked over the unfenced border to Pakistan in 1990 to take care of his ailing brother-in-law.

By the time he wanted to return, a fence was up owing to concerns over porous borders. Hasan stayed put in Pakistan for 27 years.

He sneaked back to India in April this year. Police arrested him last week from a bus stand in Jaisalmer, the westernmost frontier of India and close to the Pakistan border, and are questioning him to find out if he is a Pakistani spy. His parents — father Peeru Khan, 90, and mother Batti, 80 — insist he is not.

“He came back to take care of us. Did he do anything wrong?” asks Batti. She is frail and a little hard of hearing, but her responses are clear.

Batti and Peeru were in their two-room house when HT visited Siyalon Ki Basti. Hasan’s wife and their two children were out, working in the fields.

Batti and Peeru Khan at their home in Siyalon Ki Basti. (HT Photo)

So why did Hasan decide to return after 27 years? “Only God knows and he knows,” said Batti.

After questioning Hasan, police found Batti and one of his cousins went to Pakistan in 2014 and urged him to return as Peeru was not keeping well.

Rajeev Dutta, additional superintendent of police, CID (border intelligence), said Hasan paid a Pakistani Rs 5,000 to help him cross the border. “After entering India, Hasan Khan came to Siyalon Ki Basti and later visited Gujarat, Maharashtra and many other places. He was arrested on October 9,” Dutta told HT.

Hasan told the police he had to sneak in because he did not have any documents to prove Indian citizenship or come back through legitimate routes.

Social workers say there should be a mechanism for people such as Hasan who do not have valid documents. “On humanitarian grounds, India and Pakistan should facilitate the exchange of people who crossed over inadvertently when the border was unfenced,” said activist Bhuvesh Jain who has been highlighting the plight of Rajasthanis locked up in Pakistani jails.

“Apart from the divided families, at least four persons from Rajasthan are languishing in Pakistani jails after inadvertently crossing over many years ago,” Jain added.

Hasan’s wife declined to speak about him when she returned from the fields. Batti said when Hasan returned it was awkward. “We were shocked and surprised when he appeared suddenly. His wife was so upset with him that she didn’t speak to him for hours.”

Neighbours of the family claimed they did not know much about Hasan, his disappearance and return.

Hasan’s sister married into a family of farmers in Pakistan’s Umarkot in the 1970s. “Those days, it was quite common for people living on the either side of the border to marry into each other’s families,” said Batti. “In Pakistan, Hasan took care of his brother-in-law’s farm. My son-in-law died many years ago.”

Batti said their family does not have the means for a legal fight to prove Hasan’s innocence. “Police should release him. We are poor and can’t fight in the courts.”

First Published: Oct 17, 2017 19:17 IST