Man walks to freedom after 36 yrs in Pak jail

Gajanand

After languishing in Pakistan’s Kotlakhpat jail for 36 years, Jaipur resident Gajanand Sharma walked to freedom from the Attari-Wagha border in Punjab on Monday.

Now 68, Gajanand was 32 years when he went missing from home, strayed into Pakistan and was arrested by Pakistan Rangers.

On Monday, just before he stepped into the Indian territory, a feeble Gajanand looked back one last time towards Pakistan as if to offload all the unpleasant memories and ordeal he had undergone for decades.

His wife Makhni had given up hope of her husband’s survival and led the life of a widow all this while. On his release, the rejoicing family made sure Makhni wore bangles to celebrate. 

Gajanand appeared visibly drained out and was unable to walk a few steps towards the Indian side at the Punjab border. He squatted at least four times after which the BSF helped him.

As many as 29 Indian fishermen too were released by Pakistan along with Gajanand as a goodwill gesture ahead of the country's Independence Day on August 14. From the Pakistan jail, all were boarded onto the Karachi Express for release at the border.

The exact nature of crime committed by Gajanand is still unclear. It was only early this year that the family was informed by police that he was languishing in a Pakistan jail.

It will take perhaps another day before Gajanand reunites with his family. None of the family members were present at the border, but a grand welcome awaits the family headman in Jaipur.

After medical examination, Gajanand and others will be taken to New Delhi where intelligence agencies will complete the necessary documentation.

Gajanand’s son Mukesh said he long presumed his father to be dead. He said his family approached the local MP and MLA for help after they learnt that he was alive in Pakistan jail.

Gajanand was sentenced to a shorter period of incarceration but it is learnt that due to lack of consular access, he continued to remain in jail.

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Man walks to freedom after 36 yrs in Pak jail

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