Poverty jails 5-year-old Indian child in Bangladesh

Poverty jails 5-year-old Indian child in Bangladesh

NGO fights for release, red tape delays it

Ariful Sheikh, 5, of Murshidabad, West Bengal is languishing in Kushtia Jail in Bangladesh since the last 10 months.

According to his mother, Kajal Rekha Bibi, Sheikh went with his grandparents to Bangladesh to visit a friend when they were detained by Bangladesh security forces while crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border.

“They had identity cards with them. It’s been almost a year, I just want them to come back. I am unwell worrying about them,” said Bibi over phone.

According to members of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, an international NGO, who have been working closely on the case, Sheikh along with his grandparents was detained on April 15 last year.

They were convicted for two months under the Bangladesh’s Control of Entry Act as they did not have the required permission papers for crossing the border.

“The fine for such an act is 500 takas which they could not pay as they are extremely poor, so they were sent to jail for  two months. That is the process,” said Sana Das, coordinator, Prison Reforms Programme, CHRI.

She informed that south Asian laws do not permit a child to be put in jail. “However, if the parents or relatives have been convicted and the child is with them, he will also be jailed with the parents,” she said.

After two months of searching for their whereabouts, Bibi filed a missing petition in Murshidabad court.

‘Nothing happened’

“The court found out that they are in the Bangladesh jail and sent the inquiry report to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka, but nothing happened. After we wrote to the Indian High Commission and the legal aid service in Bangladesh, things moved a bit.

“Finally, the ministry of home affairs in Bangladesh issued a release order on April 15 this year,” said Das adding they should have come out by June last year.
The CHRI members have been working with Bangladesh NGO BLAST in this case, and came to know that the superintendent of the jail has got a copy of the release order.

“The repatriation and release order have got caught into a bureaucratic red tape between the Bangladesh Border Guards at Darshana, district Chuadanga, Bangladesh, to whom the boy and his grandparents will be handed over for repatriation and Border Security Force at Gede checkpost on the Indian side in Nadia district where the transfer will take place,” said Aditi Dutta, member of CHRI.

An official from the ministry of home affairs stated that they will be released soon. “Things are in process,” he said.

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