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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 December, 2003, 12:34 GMT
India returns Pakistani 'truants'
Two Pakistani boys with Indian soldier
The Pakistani boys in Indian-controlled Kashmir, with signs pointing home
Two Pakistani teenagers have been sent home after straying over the border into Indian-administered Kashmir.

Sikander Hayat and his younger brother Rashid Ahmad had crossed into the Indian part of the territory on Monday.

Usually even innocent children straying into India by mistake would spend months in jail before being allowed to return to their families.

Relations between India and Pakistan have improved after a ceasefire came into force last week.

The return of Sikander and Rashid, less than 48 hours after their capture, is a further sign of the growing warmth between the rival nuclear powers.

We were told in Pakistan that Indians treat us very badly but what we have found has been quite contrary
Sikander Hayat
On Wednesday, India made the latest in a series of mutual confidence-building moves, offering to establish regular links with Pakistan's maritime security agency.

The proposal is aimed at helping fishermen from both countries who stray into each other's waters.

Many spend months in jail before they are released.

Pakistani TV said the government was considering India's proposal.

'Pleasant surprise'

The boys, who are from the village of Bande Mandal Sharief in Pakistan, embarked on an adventure which soon turned sour.

"We had come to see what the border looks like during ceasefire, where there is no firing from either side," Rashid told journalists in India.

Two Pakistani boys with Indian soldier
Rashid (l) 'cannot believe' he is going home
But they were intercepted and arrested by Indian border police at a post along the heavily guarded frontier.

Sikander and Rashid feared the worst.

They had heard tales of how many Pakistani boys who had crossed the border like them ended up in an Indian jail.

Instead, they were in for a pleasant surprise.

"[Indian soldiers] are nice. They gave us blankets to keep warm and also gave us good food to eat," said Sikander while narrating his experience at the border post.

"We were told in Pakistan that Indians treat us very badly but what we have found has been quite contrary," he added.

'Goodwill gesture'

After a few questions to verify that they were telling the truth, the boys were on their way back.

"We are sending them back as goodwill gesture," Rajesh Gupta of India's Border Security Force said.

His counterpart, Colonel Nadeem of the Pakistan Rangers who received the brothers said that the "goodwill gesture would be reciprocated".

"I cannot believe that I am going back home," Rashid said as he left India.

"This is such a pleasant surprise, my mother would have been worried," he added.

Before crossing the border the two sang their favourite Indian movie song and then waved at the Indian border guards.


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