THE BODY of a seven-year-old boy floats down a river from Pakistan to a village in India. There, it is preserved with ice blocks carved out from the mountainside. Finally, an Indian team carries the dead child through a minefield maze to the Line of Control (LoC).
Over the last three days, past many twists and turns, a rare story of heart and heartbreak played out in Achoora village in Gurez valley along the LoC in North Kashmir. On Thursday, the body of Aabid Sheikh was handed over to the Pakistan Army.
“I am seeing such an exchange for the first time in my life,” said Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, a former MLA from Gurez, where the body was handed over.
It was on Tuesday that some residents of Achoora spotted the body floating down the Kishanganga river. Within hours, they came across a photo of a “missing child” on a Facebook page from Minimarg Astoor village in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan. Then, they saw a video on social media of a distraught family from PoK appealing for the return of their son, Aabid, who had gone missing on Monday.
“As soon we came to know about it, we approached the Army and asked them to take up the matter with their counterparts across the border,” Bandipora Deputy Commissioner, Shabhaz Mirza, told The Indian Express.
Achoora, meanwhile, grappled with a problem they had never encountered…