Six men from Rajasthan are among 17 prisoners allowed to come back to India

It was freedom once again for six men from Rajasthan's desert terrain as they crossed the Wagah border at 12.15 p.m. on Wednesday after their long-awaited release from the Cot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

The presence of Barmer-Jaisalmer MP Harish Chaudhary at the border made their ‘cross-over' easy.

The lucky ones who made it included Jamaldin of Jaisalmer district's Bandha village, who spent nearly a quarter of a century (from 1986 to 2010) in various prisons.

As for the others — all belonging to Barmer district — Inshram Meghwal of Sundra village is back after languishing in jail for 17 years; Meeru Khan of Arbi Ki Gafan and Binja Ram of Samejon ki Dhani of Chohtan tehsil were in jails for 11 years; Anwar Khan and Khoja Khan, both of Rasbani village in Chohtan, are back after a decade-long incarceration.

“I personally went and received them so that they are not further troubled by formalities. I took upon myself the responsibility on their behalf,” a jubilant Mr. Choudhary told The Hindu from Delhi in the evening.

The six men were among 17 Indian prisoners who were released from Pakistan jails and allowed to cross the border on Wednesday.

The others were, four each from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and one each from Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Jammu and Kashmir.

Most of these unlettered villagers had unwittingly strayed into Pakistan territory and paid the price. All of them overstayed their sentences and were held back as the two countries took time to establish their identities/nationalities.

A few months ago, Cot Lakhpat Central Jail was in the news as Indian prisoners staged a hunger strike seeking their release after they had done their prison terms long ago. Evoking an outcry by rights bodies, an Indian and a Nepali died in the protest.

Now the six men from Rajasthan are on their way back to Barmer. But en route to their faraway hamlets, they will pay obeisance at the shrine of Sufi Saint Kwaja Moinudin Chisti at Ajmer.

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