A 30-year-old man, who had been missing for years, on Friday returned to his home in Bhubaneshwar after he was released from a Pakistani prison after spending 10 years.
Attired in a cream-coloured sherwani, Kailash Chandra Rana walked into his house near the Lingaraj temple in the wee hours to the pleasant surprise of everyone in his family.
Son of Karunakar and Janaki, the youth had left for Surat to augment the income of his florist father who needed money to manage the eight-member family.
But by a quirk of fate, he found himself in Pakistan.
"After spending two years in jail, I came to know that I was at Rawalpindi in Pakistan," Rana said on Monday.
Narrating the sequence of the traumatic events, Kailash, who was 20 then, said he first went to Goa where he worked for a private fishing company.
Once on a fishing expedition with about 60 others in a mechanised vessel, he and the others inadvertently went beyond the Indian waters.
"All of a sudden, we found ourselves surrounded by about 10 vessels manned by armed uniformed people directing us not to move," Rana, sitting on a broken cot in his dilapidated thatched house, said.
"None of us recognised them but later came to know that they were from the Pakistan navy. They asked us for our identity and from where we had come," he said.
'You have trespassed into Pakistani territory and you have to go with us,' Rana quoted them as saying.
"We were then taken to a place which looked like a military camp."
Asked about his experience across the border, Rana said from the beginning they were told that they would not be harmed. 'You are not our enemy. We know that you have entered Pakistani waters inadvertently,' they were told.
'You need not have any fear. You will be released some day,' the authorities had assured them.
"These words helped the flickering hope in our hearts," the youth said, adding the Indian prisoners were treated well in jail.
They were even allowed to watch TV, including Indian channels for four hours every day, provided with adequate food and two pairs of sherwanis every year. But none of them were allowed to write letters.
Rana said he did not feel that there were any ill-feeling as such among the general Pakistani public towards Indians.
He quoted one Jaffer Rabbinullah, a Pakistani prisoner, who used to tell him that 'a few vested interests in the two countries were spreading the poison of hatred' and that 'India and Pakistan are a single house separated by a wall (boundary). We love your people and your culture.'
Rana's father said everyone in the family had thought the youth to be dead till he arrived on Friday morning.
"Now we will not let him go anywhere even if we die of hunger," his parents said, adding, "very soon we will find a girl and get him married."
More from rediff