The Indian Army on Thursday handed over the body of a seven-year-old boy to Pakistan after it was recovered from the Burzil Nala close to the Line of Control near Achoora village in North Kashmir.
The boy was identified as Aabid Ahmad Sheikh from Minimarg Astoor village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan. He was missing since Monday and is reported to have slipped into Burzil Nala. On Tuesday, some residents of Achoora spotted the body floating down the Kishanganga river, The Indian Express reported.
“As soon we came to know about it, we approached the Army and asked them to take up the matter with their counterparts across the border,” Bandipora Deputy Commissioner Shabhaz Mirza told The Indian Express. As the area had no mortuary, they arranged ice-packs carved from the mountains to prevent the body from decomposing, Station House Officer Tariq Ahmed said.
“In accordance to Indian Army ethos, as a humanitarian gesture, Indian Army established contact with Pakistan Army on hot line and also convinced the civil administration to facilitate handing over of the dead body at the earliest,” the Army wrote on Facebook. “The local religious head and village elders were taken into confidence to support the noble gesture of handing over the dead body to the family of the deceased young boy at the earliest.”
Contrary to established protocols, which require the two parties to meet at established meeting points, the Army offered to hand over the child’s body to Pakistan at Gurez itself. General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, Lieutenant General KJS Dhillon said: “This time, instead of returning it through official exchange points like Teetwal, we did so in the same area so that the mortal remains do not get decomposed…it was a humanitarian gesture.”
“I am seeing such an exchange for the first time in my life,” said Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, a former MLA from Gurez.