When Ajju was produced in a juvenile court at Sagar, Madhya Pradesh, he didn't plead innocence. He simply asked if he could have something to eat.
The class I student had been detained by the police, along with his father and brother, on February 14 in a dispute over drinking water.
But Ajju, aged six according to his family, was too young to understand what was going on around him. Ajju's mother says he was born on September 4, 2003, and shows his vaccination card to prove it.
According to eyewitnesses, the three were taken to the police station, about two km from their residence at Ayodhya Basti, on foot.
The Juvenile Justice Act prohibits disclosure of name, address, school or other particulars of any juvenile in conflict. Under the Indian Penal Code, too, nothing is an offence when done by a child under 7 years of age.
Following the news reports, the police, who booked the trio under Sections 294, 323 and 324 of the Indian Penal Code, claim Ajju is older.
“If the boy was below six, we would not have charged him with any crime. But since he is seven-and-a-half years old, the police were not at fault in detaining him," Superintendent of Police V.K. Suryavansi said.
An inquiry has been ordered into the case.
Since his detention, Ajju has stopped going to school because other students make fun him. He did not even take his annual examination, family members said.
The court went on to dismiss the case on Friday. But for Ajju, the punishment has already been meted out.