Dhaka/New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) In a gesture of goodwill, the Bangladesh authorities Sunday released a five-year-old Indian boy, Ariful Sheikh, who spent nearly a year in a Bangladesh jail along with his grandparents after they crossed the border to meet their ailing relatives.
The boy was reunited with his parents after the Border Guard Bangladesh handed him along with his grandparents to the BSF at the Gede checkpost on the Indo-Bangladesh border in the early hours of Sunday.
Later, they were handed by the BSF to Murshidabad police for formalities.
Ariful, his grandfather Hachimuddin Sheikh (48) and grandmother Mafroza Khatun (about 40) who hail from West Bengal's Murshidabad district, crossed the border to Bangladesh in April last year to see their ailing relatives. Little did they know at that time they will spend over a year in jail.
They were sentenced by a judicial magistrate court in Kushthia to two months in prison and ordered to be repatriated to India, but were languishing in jail even after their prison term was over.
Ariful looked overjoyed after his release. "I was in jail all this while... in Bangladesh. I had three friends in the jail and they used to give us eggs, fried potato, rice and roti," Ariful told NDTV. Parents, too, were ecstatic. "I am very happy and I thank everyone for their help and support," said his mother Kajol Rekha Bibi.
In New Delhi, a human rights body lauded the release of the boy and his grandparents.
"We are very happy for the family," said Maja Daruwala, Director Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative.
Daruwala, however, stressed that this was not the end and drew attention to the plight of many more families in jail on both sides of the border that need immediate and efficient consular services.
"The ministries and governments on both sides must immediately come to an understanding and put in place suitable procedures that make sure that this kind of neglect and delay never takes place in the future," said Daruwala.
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