The Juvenile Justice Board in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on Thursday, 25 August, ordered the release of a Pakistani minor, Asmad Ali, who was arrested in November 2021 for crossing over to the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) while he was with his goat.
After being arrested by the Indian authorities, 14-year-old Ali was handed over to the J&K Police and was booked under the Egress and Internal Movement Ordinance (E&IMCO).
The board also announced the release of another Pakistani schoolboy, Khayyam Maqsood (16), who was arrested by the Indian authorities in August 2021 for crossing the border.
Rahul Kapoor, a human rights activist who worked for the release of two boys, told The Quint that he had started an online petition for Ali's release, which was signed by over 15,000 people. He also added that he has communicated the release order to India's Ministry of External Affairs and the Pakistan High Commission to avoid any diplomatic delay and ensure the quick release of the boys.
Ali has been in Indian custody for around nine months whereas Maqsood has spent over a year in custody.
In an order dated 5 August, the board acquitted Maqsood. Meanwhile, in an order dated 25 August, Ali was convicted of crossing the border but was not sentenced because he is a juvenile.
In his statement to the board, Ali said that there were dogs behind his goats and that due to the "scare of the dogs, he came into the territory of J&K."
Allegations Against Asmad Ali Stand Proven: Order
Asmad Ali's release order stated that the allegations against the "child in conflict" stand proven. "Allegations against the accused of crossing over to India from Pakistan without proper permission has thereby committed offence under sections 2/3 E & IMCO and these allegations against the child in conflict stand proved," the order stated.
"He is convicted but being a juvenile, he cannot be sentenced under the law," it added.
The order further stated that Ali was ordered to be released subject to the furnishing of an undertaking duly attested by the magistrate that he shall not repeat the offence.
Allegations Against Maqsood Not Proven: Order
Maqsood was also booked under the same charges as Ali.
While ordering the release of Maqsood, the board said that the "facts and circumstances under which the child in conflict with law crossed over to the Indian Territory have not been proved."
"Allegations against the accused have not been proved beyond reasonable shadow of doubt, whether he himself crossed over to this side of the LoC, or he has been arrested from No Man's Land, or from other side of the LoC," the order added.
The board further acquitted Maqsood and ordered him to be released.