Charges dropped, Pakistani boy may walk free

Vrinda Sharma

CHANDIGARH: The 15-year-old Pakistani boy who crossed the border into India to meet Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan may be able to return home now within days as charges under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act against him have been dropped.

World Human Rights Protection Council chairman and Chandigarh-based advocate Ranjan Lakhanpal had filed a public interest litigation petition seeking the release of the minor.

“The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has not cleared his name [yet], but he was booked under Section14 of the Foreigners’ Act which has been withdrawn. The only allegation against him is that he is in India without the necessary papers,” Mr. Lakhanpal said here on Thursday.

The boy was detained by the Border Security Force after he inadvertently crossed into Indian territory in the Ferozepur sector without a valid passport. Currently he is lodged in a juvenile detention centre at Faridkot, 250 km from here.

He left his home in Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province on August 16, saying he would return in the evening. But he called his parents after about a month to inform them that he was in jail in India, in his school uniform and carrying his school bag.

The parents of the Grade X student appealed to the Indian government to free him on humanitarian grounds, an appeal reinforced by prominent Indian personalities and the media.

“We are hopeful that he will soon be united with his family,” said Mr. Lakhanpal, adding that there is a need to frame a policy for such cases.

The Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepur district confirmed that the charges against the boy have been withdrawn. “He will be released and deported in a few days after completion of some legal formalities.”

“Very excited”

The supervisor at the Faridkot juveniles’ detention centre said the boy is very excited. “He is being properly taken care of here and he is keeping good mental and physical health,” he added.

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