Pak-returned prisoners still remain 'Unwanted'

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Amritsar, Oct 5: The sound of the bell makes him sit up, sending shivers down his spine. However the gentle touch of a hand makes him glance towards the smiling face of the person in attendence and makes his realize that he is a different, friendly enviornment and not behind bars in a jail across the border. He may have returned to his motherland but he is still far away from home.

In his thirty's, Rishipal was repatriated to India in May this year alongwith other Indian prisoners through the Attari-Wagah checkpost. Suffering from epilepsy he has been waiting at the Bhagat Puran Singh Pingalwara near Manawala village for someone from his family to turnup and take him home to his village in Himachal Pradesh.

The district authorities have on a number of occasions in the last few months contacted the Himachal Pradesh government to know the details of Rishipal's family or relatives. "However so far none have turned up", Dr Gulshan Kumar a psychatrist at the Pingalwara said.

Memories of the four years spent in a Pakistani prison still haunt Rishipal and whenever the bell of the public school adjacent to the Pingalwara rings, he sits up. " The sound reminds him of the ringing of the bell in prison", Dr Kumar said while confirming that Rishipals days in prison had left him a shattered man and had even effected his mental health.

"He does not remember anything about his family, except that he was the eldest amongst his five brothers and sisters and neither is he aware how he landed in jail across the border", Dr Kumar added while confirming that Rishipal was under medical treatment.

Besides Rishipal, there are three other repatriated prisoners who despite coming back to their country in May this year are yet to reach their respective homes. " We are only looking after them and make them feel at home, it is for the district administration to send them home", Dr Inderjit Kaur, the head of the Pingalwara said. The other three Pak-returned prisoners are-- Gunga Ram, Prab Dayal and Ram Gagru.

Gunga Ram, who is deaf and dumb and cannot remember his home address, the other, Ram Gagru was taken to Jaipur to the address mentioned in his file but the district authorities found that some other family was living there. Thereafter he was brought back to Amritsar and the Pingalwara was entrusted with the task of looking after him.

The third, Prab Dayal who is mentally unsound claims that he belongs to Fatehpur district in Uttar Pradesh. However despite the best efforts of the administration no one has so far truned up to 'claim' Prab Dayal.

Dr Gulshan Kumar, the psychatrist confirms that all these four prisoners were tortured in prison and that was the reason that they still felt scared whenever someone in the Pingalwara asks them to take a walk outside or go indoors. "They are finding it difficult to forget their past", he added.

"Their families seem to have forgotten them or perhaps they are no longer wanted back by their near and dear ones due to social reasons", Dr Inderjit Kaur said while pointing to numerious other inmates of the Pingalwara who live all their lives here as their families do not want them back.


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