The Juvenile Justice Board in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) ordered the immediate release of two Pakistani children on Friday after the minors crossed the Line of Control (LoC).
The two children, 14-year-old Asmad Ali and 16-year-old Khayyam Maqsood, had accidentally crossed the LoC and are now lodged in a juvenile center in the Poonch district of occupied Kashmir.
The board declared that the children had committed a crime by illegally crossing the border. However, ordered their release due to them being minors. The relevant Indian authorities were directed to send back the two Pakistani minors after fulfilling the legal requirements.
The two children were also directed to submit an affidavit declaring to the board that they would not repeat their mistake in the future.
Asmad Ali is a resident of Rawal Kot, Azad Kashmir, and crossed the LoC on November 28 last year while chasing his pet pigeons. The 14-year old's family had appealed to the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers for his release and return home.
The Indian government had granted consular access to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi in March this year, after which the process of verifying the child’s citizenship was initiated – which has since been completed.
Khayyam Maqsood, on the other hand, belongs to the Poonch district of Azad Kashmir and crossed the LoC by mistake on 24 August last year where he was arrested by the Indian Army.
The 16-year-old is now to be released after a year.
Uncertain future awaits
While the juvenile justice board has ordered the release of the two minors, no details have emerged pertaining to their return home by either the Indian authorities or the Pakistani High Commission in Delhi.
Rahul Kapoor, an Indian social activist who has avidly advocated for the release of the two children, told the The Express Tribune that the “last 10 month’s efforts have finally borne fruit”.
Expressing relief, Kapoor said that “now Asmad Ali and Khayyam Maqsood will be able to return to their country” and that he had already sent a copy of the board’s order to the Pakistan High Commission in India as well as the Indian Interior Ministry.
However, the activist claimed that he was yet to get a response from either.
Now that the legal order for 14 year old Pak Child Asmad Ali's release has come. I hope that both @MEAIndia and @PakinIndia will work together in a speedy manner to send the child back to his home in Pakistan@ChangeOrg_India@ChangeOrg_Hindi @meaMADADhttps://t.co/hEpIcL99Ol— Rahul Kapoor (@RahulKapoorSA) August 25, 2022
He remained optimistic nonetheless that after Indian and Pakistani authorities contact each other, the release will be implemented.
“The two children will soon return,” he hoped.
It is pertinent ot note that The Express Tribune had highlighted the case of Asmad Ali.
Earlier in March, a differently-abled teenager, 19-year-old Waseem Tanveer, who had mistakenly crossed into IIOJK in 2013 had been reunited with his family by the efforts of the Edhi Foundation.
Being unable to talk or hear, he could not describe his identity to the Indians, said an Edhi spokesperson.
He had added that an NGO from Indian Punjab had contacted Faisal Edhi and described the child, telling him that he could recognize buildings and personalities.
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