LAHORE -  Two Kashmiri schoolboys reached Lahore’s Wahga border yesterday after facing six-month interrogation by India’s national investigation agency in connection with last year’s deadliest terror assault on a military base in Uri, in occupied Kashmir.

Faisal Hussain Awan and Ahsan Khursheed, who mistakenly crossed to the held Kashmir, lived in a village close to the Line of Control in Chakothi Sector. The teenage boys were arrested by Indian security forces and then investigated for alleged involvement in the terrorist attack that killed 19 Indian army soldiers on September 18, 2016.

India’s border security force yesterday handed over Faisal, 15, and Ahsan, 16, to Pakistan Rangers at the Wahga border point. The boys, who skipped media crews waiting for them, were seen happy with smiles on their faces as they arrived at a checkpoint along with paramilitary troops.

Relatives who travelled from the mountainous Muzaffarabad region amid heavy snowfall to reach Lahore were impatiently waiting for their loved ones at the Wahga border. As the boys arrived at the border point, relatives rushed to hug them.

Zainab Bibi, the grandmother of Ahsan Khursheed, was among the nine family members who reached Wahga, the only land crossing between the nuclear-armed neighbours, to welcome the child.

Muhammad Qasim Chaudhry, maternal uncle of Ahsan, expressed his displeasure over months-long delay in the release of the children. “This is very unfortunate (that), it took Indian security agencies (at least) six months to clear two children of terror charges. We were very much worried. All family members were worried (about their children),” Chaudhry told reporters after meeting his nephew.

Dr Ghulam Mustafa Tabassum, brother of Faisal Hussain Awan, said that he was very much happy as he saw his younger brother safe and sound. “We are very excited now. We had no idea that what will happen to him. Of course, we were worried since he was kept in prison for months,” Tabassum said.

The release comes a few days after Indian agencies declared that both the schoolboys had nothing to do with the attack on Indian military camp in September. Last year, the Kashmiri boys were arrested by Indian army as they strayed into the occupied Kashmir just a few days after the attack. Following their arrest, the Indian Army had claimed that the boys were facilitating the Uri attackers.

The Indian NIA cleared the teenagers of charges of involvement in the attack but after six months long investigations. Earlier, Pakistan Embassy issued travel documents to the boys.

Security experts say that almost after each terror related incident in India, New Delhi points finger at Islamabad even without evidence and without proper investigations. The same happened last year when Indian government officials blamed Pakistan for the terror attack. Pakistan always rejects such allegations as baseless and unfounded.

Last year, Pakistan Army spokesman had brushed aside the Indian allegations about Pakistan’s alleged involvement in the September 18 attack on the Indian military base. He stated that Pakistan has never pointed the finger at any one without concrete evidence.

“Indian allegations are baseless, without any proof and disturbing,” former Director-General of the Inter-Services Public Relations or ISPR Lt General Asim Bajwa had stated in September last.