Bhubaneswar: After languishing in a Pakistan jail for 20 years, Birju, Kulu now 50-year-old, is on his way home at Jangatoli village under Kutra block of Sundargarh district.
He was recently released from Lahore jail and handed over to Indian authorities at the Indo-Pakistan border on October 26.
He reached Jharkhand last night and left for Sundargarh early this morning. A team of district administration officials facilitated his return.
Birju went missing almost 24 years ago under mysterious circumstances. He was said to be mentally unstable. After a frantic search for two years, the family came to know that he was working in a hotel at Raipur in Chhattisgarh. But by the time they reached Raipur, they could not find him.
Sources said he might have gone to Punjab to work as a farmhand and inadvertently trespassed into the neighbouring country.
However, the family did not file any missing complaint with local police.
“No one knows for sure how he reached Pakistan. But he seems to have somehow reached Amritsar and from there wandered off the border. He was caught by Pakistan authorities and treated as a prisoner of war. The family did not have any inkling of him till he was handed over to Indian authorities at the border on October 26,” Sundargarh SP Sagarika Nath had told the media on November 3.
Meanwhile, his parents passed away, waiting in vain for their son to return. Only his sister and uncles are alive. His elder sister was very happy when the district administration officials informed her about Birju’s whereabouts.
After Birju’s repatriation to India, he had a virtual reunion with his family members. Since he had tested positive for COVID-19, he was then admitted to a hospital at Amritsar.
The Resident Commissioner of Odisha had made arrangements to bring him back to his native village after his recovery.