Punjab and Haryana high court’s intervention unites two Pak juveniles with their families
The court had asked Punjab to produce both the children before it on June 7 and also sought a response from the Centre. However, the children were released by Indian authorities in Amritsar on Monday, just two days prior to the hearing.punjab Updated: Jun 08, 2017 09:21 IST
At a time of heightened tension between India and Pakistan, two Pakistani juveniles, who had strayed into Indian territory in July 2016, were quietly sent back to their homes on Monday after the Centre’s directive to the Punjab government.
But the ordeal of the two boys from Narowal town in Pakistan did not end so easily. It has now emerged that the Pakistan high commission had petitioned the Punjab and Haryana high court on June 1, seeking release of the two children and a compensation of Rs 20 lakh.
The court had asked Punjab to produce both the children before it on June 7 and also sought a response from the Centre. However, the children were released by Indian authorities in Amritsar on Monday, just two days prior to the hearing.
Pakistan’s move, which lawyers said was unprecedented since embassies rarely approach court themselves in such matters and rather use diplomatic channels, came nearly a month after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) stayed execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national who was declared as a spy by Pakistan.
HAD COME TO SEE RAVI RIVER: PAK
The two boys, Babar Ali, 16, and Ali Raza, 15, had come along with their (maternal) uncle to Dahiya Khas, a Pakistani village along the border, to attend a marriage in July last year. On July 12, all three of them ventured out on a bike to see the Ravi river, but strayed 300 metres into India, where Border Security Force (BSF) pesonnel intercepted them and handed them over to the Amritsar police, Pakistan high commission counsel and Supreme Court lawyer, Shilpi Jain, said.
She added that their maternal uncle is still in some jail in Punjab.
The children were kept in observation homes in Hoshiarpur and Faridkot and tried under the Foreigners Act and sentenced to imprisonment of one and a half months by principal magistrate, Juvenile Justice Board, Amritsar. Their sentence was over by August 31, 2016, but they languished in observation homes till June 5 this year, when they were released.
“The present case is a glaring example of illegal custody and unlawful confinement. Even their prosecution was not made out, leave alone conviction. They remained in illegal imprisonment/detention for almost 9 months, after completion of the sentence,” Jain had argued before the court.
She had also stated that even the BSF, which intercepted the two boys, had recommended their release as “goodwill gesture” to improve ties between India and Pakistan but for unknown reasons, the government of India did not heed to requests of Pakistan.
India was approached by Pakistan on January 5, March 3, April 4, April 25, May 19 this year, but it did not respond, reads the petition of Munir Akhtar Satti, a pakistan embassy employee in Delhi, who was petitioner in the court.