Three days after the body of an eight-year-old boy from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) was pulled out of the Kishenganga River in Jammu and Kashmir's Gurez sector, the army on Thursday handed over the body to the Pakistan army.
The body of the boy was handed over to the Pakistan army at 2 pm at a point of the Chorwan border. Indian army soldiers were accompanied by the Sub-District Magistrate from Gurez sector, according to officials.
8-year-old Abid Sheikh had reportedly fallen off the cliff in PoK's Minimarg area, just four kilometres away from the Line of Control (LoC) and into the river. The body of the boy reached the Jammu and Kashmir side of the border on June 9.
However, the body remained in Gurez last two days as the Pakistan Army wanted it be handed over at the designated exchange points, which were far from Gurez.
The family of the boy, in a video uploaded on social media, said he had left for school on July 8 but did not return home.
The family learnt of the boy's death after the boy's picture went viral on the social media in Jammu and Kashmir. "My only appeal to people of India is to help in returning the body of my son. I will be indebted. Our Army chief should also play a positive role," Sheikh's father Nazir Sheikh said in a video posted online.
The moving posts written by locals and relatives on social media in PoK and the family's video forced the Indian and Pakistani armies on Tuesday to establish a hotline.
Officials say Pakistan army was initially insisting on receiving the body in Kupwara's Teetwal area, over 150 km away from Gurez.
"Pakistan Army mentioned landmines on the LoC in Gurez as a reason not to exchange the body there and suggested Teetwal instead," an official said.
"However, Pakistan later agreed for a spot in Churwan in Gurez. We had to first flag off the body towards Kupwara and had to drive back to Gurez. We are hopeful to handover the body as soon as it reaches the LoC. Since mobile network does not work, the final confirmation will be issued only tomorrow," said Mr Sheikh.
"In accordance to Indian Army ethos, as a humanitarian gesture, the Indian Army established contact with the Pakistan Army on hotline and also convinced the civil administration to facilitate handing over of the body at the earliest," the Indian Army said, according to news agency PTI.
The delay in handing over the body had spurred an online campaign for immediate action.
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