LAHORE: A 22-year-old patient of sickle cell anaemia, who had traversed into Pakistan’s territory unintentionally five years ago, will be handed back to India on Thursday as a goodwill gesture.
Jitendra Arjunwar, a resident of Indian state Madhya Pradesh, had entered Pakistan from the Rajasthan border on August 12, 2013 following an argument with his family.
He was kept in Hyderabad jail after being sentenced to a one-year imprisonment by the court and shifted to Karachi on completing his jail term in 2014.
Despite repeated correspondence with the Indian embassy, the Pakistani authorities could not ascertain Jitendra’s status as an Indian citizen.
However, his Indian citizenship was confirmed a few months back, after which the authorities decided to send him back. Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif had also said a few days ago that Jitendra will soon be repatriated back to India.
The sickle cell anaemia patient had been getting medical treatment throughout his stay in Pakistan and his release could only be achieved through recently kicked-off ‘backdoor diplomacy’.
On Wednesday, Jitendra was taken from Karachi to Lahore, where fresh blood was transfused to him at a public hospital.
Jitendra was initially scheduled to be handed back on Friday, but will now be handed over to authorities at Wagha border on Thursday.
The Indian patient is alive only because of medical assistance given to him in Pakistan, The Times of India reported on Tuesday.
Journalists and rights activists on both sides of the border played a key role in Jitendra’s repatriation.