𝙏𝙧𝙪𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙖 𝙋𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙎𝙤𝙡𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙡𝙮 𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙧

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𝙏𝙧𝙪𝙚 𝙨𝙩𝙤𝙧𝙮 𝙤𝙛 𝙖 𝙋𝙖𝙠𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙞 𝙎𝙤𝙡𝙙𝙞𝙚𝙧 𝙬𝙝𝙤 𝙞𝙣𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙡𝙮 𝙘𝙧𝙤𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘽𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙚𝙧

In 1993, I served as a Brigade Major stationed near the International Border (IB) facing Jammu. Due to ongoing unrest in Jammu and Kashmir, heightened security measures were in place to prevent infiltration across the IB. This resulted in the frequent apprehension of individuals, some of whom were Pakistani nationals who had unintentionally crossed the border.

Duty called. A Pakistani national, elderly and worn, was brought before me, apprehension heavy in the air. Interrogation was routine, but something about this man resonated.

In chaste Punjabi, I inquired about his past. His reply, though faint, held a soldier's resolve. He spoke of a distant battalion, a name that sparked recognition. Five Seven Rajput, his words confirmed, igniting a flicker of shared experience. Here is our conversation:
"Toone fauj vich naukri kabhi kiti?" (Have you ever served in the army)
"Haan, Hajoor."
"Kedhi paltan?" (Which battalion)
"Five Seven vich,"
"Five Seven Frontier Force?"
"Nahiji, Five Seven Rajput."
"Kithe si paltan?" (Where was the unit) 
"Hong Kong vich saanu Japaniyan ne farh liya si aur mein chaar saal kedh vich raha." (The Japanese had captured us in Hong Kong and I spent four years as a prisoner of war).
"No, sir," he corrected with a hint of pride etched in his face. "Five Seven Rajput. The Japanese captured us in Hong Kong, and I endured four years as a prisoner of war."

The world shifted. This weathered man, tested by time, was no mere enemy soldier. He was a brother in arms, a soldier from a shared lineage. The blindfold came off, the ropes loosened. His eyes, wary at first, met mine.

"You are a regimental soldier," I acknowledged, my voice firm. "Tell me, how does your path lead here?"

He unfolded his story - a narrative of neglect disguised as responsibility. He spoke of sons who had turned away, leaving him adrift in his final act. Crossing the border, he sought solace and recognition, only to find himself on the wrong side of the line.

A knot formed in my stomach. This wasn't a simple border crossing, but a desperate plea from a forgotten warrior. Food and tea were brought, a small token of understanding amidst his despair. However, a larger burden weighed heavily - ensuring his safe return.

He spoke of his past, mentioning names of officers long gone, details that echoed with forgotten chapters of history. Captain Ansari's name, a hero executed by the Japanese, solidified my resolve. His bravery remained etched in our shared history.

I bypassed the usual channels, the delays insignificant compared to the weight of his story. Authority and shared history secured permission for his return. Red tape couldn't hold a candle to the weight of his story.

The handover arrived. The old soldier, a flicker of hope rekindled, stood tall. We exchanged salutes, a silent understanding passing between us. He was no longer a nameless face, but a fellow soldier rediscovered, returning home.

As he disappeared across the border, a solemn silence settled. This wasn't a story of sadness, but a testament to the complexities of war and the enduring bond of shared experience. It served as a reminder that duty can encompass not just enforcing boundaries, but also bridging them.

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