Pakistan willing to hand over bodies of missing persons back to India despite escalating tensions


Pakistan to hand over two missing bodies to India despite tension on border

In the backdrop of growing tensions at the Pakistan-India border following the Line of Control (LoC) violation by Indian Airforce on Tuesday morning, Pakistan, while setting an example of good faith, is all set to hand over dead bodies of two Indians who were missing for the last seven months.

The two bodies, which were buried in a valley of Skardu in Gilgit Baltistan (GB) last year for safe custody until their identification, were shifted to Islamabad on Tuesday noon in order to be handed over to the Indian High Commission.

According to officials who remained involved in the entire process, the bodies were shifted to the Federal Capital after ensuring identification and completing all formalities.

The dead bodies had reached the valley of Kharmang District in GB after drifting away in the fast-moving waters of Indus River.

According to the details, an oil tanker that was on its way from Jammu to Leh had met with an accident and rolled down into Indus River near Kargil town in Ladakh almost seven months ago.

Since then, two Indian citizens including a youth, Saleem, and the driver of the tanker were missing.

According to a report, a white coloured tanker (JK02BK 6225) along with its driver and two teenagers, all from Thanamandi area of Rajouri, had drifted away with the fast-moving waters of River Indus into Baltistan region of GB on Pakistan’s side of the LoC in July 2018.

Nothing was known of the three persons and the tanker had vanished on July 7 in the river, until a man from Kharmang district of GB noticed mobile phone numbers of its owner written on parts of the tanker that were left behind on the river bank.

According to sources, social media had played a role in identifying the bodies months after the accident. When the pictures were shared in social media, relatives of the deceased in Kargil had approached their government in Delhi to request Islamabad for retrieving the bodies.

Nearly a month after the accident, the man, out of kindness, contacted the owner over Whatsapp in India. He sent him photographs of the tanker and of a partly decomposed body of a young man that was found in it. The owner of the tanker later shared the photo with the affected families.

The 19-year-old Saleem Khan was identified by his father from the two silver chains he was wearing around his neck.

According to an official statement issued by the GB commissioner, the two bodies were recovered at the bank of River Indus near Pari and Ahmedabad areas of Kharmang District in GB in July 2018. Due to lack of identification at that time, the bodies were temporarily buried in the area.

Later, the Indian government through its ministry of foreign affairs had requested Pakistan for shifting the bodies to their homeland; therefore, the bodies were dug out and sent to Islamabad for formal shifting to their homeland with the help of the Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry here.

According to an official of GB government who travelled with the body from Skardu, the bodies were handed over to officials of Interior Ministry and Pakistan’s High Commission in India at Pakistan Institute Of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital in Islamabad. The bodies were later kept at the hospital for completion of formalities. “We are not aware of how and when the bodies would be handed over to Indian High Commission. The ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs would be looking into the issue now,” said the official.