The Pakistan Army has finally confirmed that Sepoy Chandu Babulal Chavan, a 22-year-old Indian soldier who had "inadvertently crossed over" the Line of Control (LoC), is in their custody.
Officials of the Pakistan Army provided their Indian counterparts with information on Chavan's whereabouts over hotline on Thursday, the Indian Express quoted army sources as saying.
Chavan, posted with the 37 Rashtriya Rifles at Mendhar along the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir, had crossed over to the Pakistani side with his rifle on September 29 around noon, a few hours after Director General of Military Operations (DGMO) Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh announced that the Indian Army had carried out surgical strikes on seven terror launch pads across the LoC.
Lieutenant General Singh conveyed information about Chavan to the Pakistan Army over the official hotline around 2:30 pm the same day. They army also made it clear that Chavan crossing the LoC did not have anything to do with the surgical strikes.
The Pakistan Army's confirmation that Chavan is in their custody has raised hopes that the soldier will be returned to India through existing mechanisms, the daily reported.
The soldier's grandmother passed away due to cardiac arrest after finding out that Chavan may have been captured by the Pakistan Army two weeks ago. His grandparents had brought up Chavan and his brother after they lost their parents at an young age.
"We have great faith in the government's assurance that Chandu will be brought home safe," a friend of the family said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) on Friday rubbished a report published by a Pakistani newspaper which said that Indian Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar denied reports of the army carrying out surgical strikes along the LoC on September 29, the IE reported.
According to the report published in The News International, Jaishankar admitted in a meeting with German Ambassador to India Dr Martin Ney that the army did not carry out any surgical strike two weeks ago. The report stated that the German authorities shared this information during an official meeting with Pakistan embassy officials in Berlin.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, in a statement posted on Twitter, denied the report calling it 'concocted' and 'baseless'.
Our statement on a concocted and baseless News International Pakistan story pic.twitter.com/QcqQTJUM0C
— Vikas Swarup (@MEAIndia) October 14, 2016