Rights groups seeks immediate release of Pakistani boys

April 16th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by admin  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, April 16 (IANS) Human rights groups in Pakistan have demanded the immediate repatriation of two Pakistani boys who strayed into Indian territory and are in police custody in Barmer, Rajasthan. Azhar Ansari, 16, and his cousin Zoaib, 10, crossed into India Saturday after running away from home following an argument with their parents.

Reports here say that the Rajasthan Police have confirmed that nothing incriminating has been found against the two boys, who were caught by the Border Security Force after they crossed over into India.

“Their only wrongdoing was that they had crossed the border into India by digging the earth under the barbed wire fence, which divides India and Pakistan at the Munnabao border,” former minister for Human Rights Ansar Burney told IANS.

Ali Naqi of the Human Rights Commission urged India to release the two immediately as they had inadvertently crossed over only to save themselves from wrath of their parents.

Burney said Indian authorities had assured him the boys would soon be sent back to Pakistan after certain formalities are completed.

Burney, who recently concluded a visit to India, said the government had agreed to repatriate to Pakistan about 150 prisoners lodged in Indian jails after confirming their Pakistani nationality.

Some Pakistani prisoners, he said, have completed their sentences over a decade ago, but continue to languish in Indian jails. Over two dozen of them, including women, have become mentally disabled and at least three are deaf and dumb, he said.

One prisoner, who Burney hopes will return to Pakistan soon, has spent nearly 20 years in jail but was only sentenced to three months’ imprisonment by an Indian court.

Burney spent significant time in Indian Punjab as a guest of Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal. He negotiated the release of 49 Pakistani prisoners, who Badal said, would be sent back once their Pakistani nationality was confirmed and their travel documents made available from the Pakistani high commission in New Delhi.

Burney was instrumental in securing the release of Kashmir Singh, a former Indian soldier who spent nearly 35 long years in Pakistani prisons on charges of spying.

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