After spending over 48 hours in the custody of Pakistan Rangers, a BSF jawan who was captured when he was swept into their territory by strong currents of Chenab river, was today handed over to India.
The 30-year-old trooper, Satyasheel Yadav, was repatriated after Border Security Force (BSF) officials met the commanders of the Pakistan Rangers at the zero line at Octroi borderpost along the International Border (IB) in R S Pura sector of Jammu district after some procedural delay.
"They (Rangers) treated him (Yadav) very well throughout their custody. We are grateful to them. The Pak authorities interrogated our jawan which I think is not uncommon with any security force doing when they find an unauthorised entry in their area," BSF Director General D K Pathak, who flew in from Delhi for this specific purpose, told reporters minutes after the handover.
Pathak said the return of Yadav, a Constable of the 33rd battalion of the force deployed to guard the frontier, has been made in "record time".
BSF officials said Yadav was handed to them at 4.18 PM near border pillar 918 along the IB in Jammu and Kashmir.
"He said he was feeling normal and that he was happy to be back," an official who was part of the deliberations said.
He will be administered a de-briefing session by the intelligence wings of the BSF and central security agencies after sometime, the official said adding it will be done sooner than later.
Looking tired, the trooper, dressed in his dark green combat fatigue, walked into the Indian soil flanked by his Commandant Viresh Kumar and two other officers who met a three-member Rangers team led by their Wing Commander rank officer.
The BSF boat that carried Yadav into the neighbouring land was also handed over back by the Rangers, the official said.
Earlier, Yadav told reporters in Pakistan that his boat accidentally strayed into the neighbouring land after it went out of control in strong river currents.
"My colleagues swam out but I do not know swimming. The boat took me into Pakistani territory. I jumped into water near a Pakistan post and was rescued by jawans of Pakistan Rangers," he said in his narration of the events leading to his capture.
BSF chief Pathak said while he was not aware of who all questioned his trooper, it was incumbent on any security force in uniform to undertake these protocols.
"I was told that no one misbehaved with him and he was given medical treatment when he landed on their side of the Chenab. Whatever was asked from him (Yadav) were obvious questions," he said.
Pathak said the jawan was wearing a life jacket and hence he was saved from drowning despite not knowing how to swim.
Yadav, before crossing over to the Indian side, said he was made "comfortable" by the Rangers.
"They took my introduction. They helped me to the extent they could. They kept me better than what I had thought. I have no complaints. I am happy," he said.
The young constable, who joined BSF in 2005, was out on a patrol on Wednesday with seven other personnel in the Paragwal-Khour sub-sector of general area Akhnoor when the boat they were travelling in developed a problem around 11am.
When the patrol squad was negotiating a narrow bend in the river in this sector, the engine of the motorized boat failed.
A rescue boat later sent to fetch the BSF men was taken by other personnel but Yadav drifted along with the boat in the strong current as the rope holding him snapped and he subsequently landed 400 metres away in Sialkot sector of Pakistan where he was picked up by the villagers initially and then handed over to the Rangers.
Yadav is a resident of village Ranipura in Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh and has three children.
While answering queries of reporters after the handover, the BSF DG said the border guarding force was ever vigilant to thwart any attempt of infiltration or ceasefire violation along this frontier.
"We will give a befitting reply to any incident that violates border peace and tranquility. We are very alert and I can tell you there has been no infiltration in the area we are guarding," Pathak said.
He refused to hazard a guess on the number of possible infiltrators present across the border.
"Leave it to us to handle it (issues of ceasefire violations and infiltration)," he said.
He also said he would not agree with the version that Yadav was "paraded" before the media in Pakistan before his release.
"I would not agree with this. There was no compulsion on him (Yadav) to do anything," the DG said.