A 24-year-old Indian Sikh man, who had gone missing in Pakistan during Baisakhi festival celebrations and was subsequently found from the residence of his "Facebook friend", was today handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border.
A 24-year-old Indian Sikh man, who had gone missing in Pakistan during Baisakhi festival celebrations and was subsequently found from the residence of his “Facebook friend”, was today handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border. “After getting special approval from the interior ministry the Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) today handed over Amarjit Singh to the Border Security Force (BSF) at the Wagah Border,” ETPB spokesman Amir Hashmi told PTI. He said Singh crossed into India on foot. Amarjit Singh, a resident of Amritsar, had arrived in Pakistan along with other 1,700 Sikh pilgrims to celebrate Baisakhi festival on April 12. But his disappearance was only noticed when the entourage he came along with embarked upon the return journey to India on April 21. Yesterday he was found from his Facebook friend Amir Razzak’ house in Sheikhupura, about 50 kms from Lahore, where he had gone to see him.
According to the ETPB, Singh on his arrival to Nankana Sahib had left the group to meet Razzak. “The family of Razzak contacted the board yesterday and told them about his (Singh’s) stay at his residence. Both Singh and Razzak visited the ETPB office in Lahore and said that he (Singh) had not gone missing ,” Hashmi said. Hashmi said Singh told the board that he thought that he had a one-month visa and he would return to his country after spending a couple of weeks with his friend here. The ETPB takes passports from the visiting pilgrims and returns them on their departure to their homeland.
A source told PTI that Pakistani intelligence agencies quizzed Singh for “several hours” regarding his absence. “After it was established that he had not deliberately disappeared and had no links with any Indian intelligence agency, Singh was handed over to the ETPB to be deported to India,” he said.
According to an investigation by the ETPB, Singh separated himself on April 16 from the visiting Sikh group members on a visit to Gurdwara Janamesthan in Nankana Sahib (80 kms from Lahore).
The ETPB came to know about his disappearance when Singh did not turn up on April 21 along with other visiting Indian Sikhs at the Wagah railway station to leave for India. Singh and the others had valid Pakistani visas till April 21.
Singh’s disappearance came after another visiting Indian pilgrim Kiran Bala who married a Pakistani man Mohammad Azam, a resident of Lahore, and applied for Pakistani citizenship. She had arrived in Lahore on April 12 to attend the Baisakhi festival.