Agence France-Presse

Ariful Sheikh, 5-year-old Indian boy, freed from Bangladesh prison

Five year old Indian boy Ariful Sheikh (C), sits in a police van with his family shortly after his release from a Bangladesh jail, in Krishnaganj village, some 15 kilometers inside the Indo-Bangla border upon his return to India. A five-year-old Indian boy left a jail in Bangladesh on April 29, after being incarcerated for more than a year when he was picked up by police on the border along with his grandparents.
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A five-year-old Indian boy was released from a Bangladesh prison today after spending over a year behind bars, reported Agence-France Press

Ariful Sheikh told a local Indian television channel upon his release, "I am happy to be back with my parents," said AFP.

The boy was freed along with his grandparents, all of whom arrived back in India today, said AFP.

The three were arrested in April 2011 on charges of entering Bangladesh without the necessary documentation, according to India's NDTV.

Many Indians lack proper identification, a problem the government is trying to solve by way of its ongoing multi-billion-dollar unique identification number program

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The Sheikhs were handed two-month sentences but bureaucratic delays extended their jail time, prompting outcry from rights activists, said AFP.

Maja Daruwala, director of the New Delhi-based Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, welcomed the news but said India and Bangladesh need to address the plight of many families separated by similar border incidents, calling on the governments to "put in place suitable procedures that make sure that this kind of neglect and delay never takes place in the future," reported the Indo Asian News Service

Kushtia jail head Omar Faruq told AFP that the boy was imprisoned because they had no where else to put him, saying he "was not sentenced, but since he came with his grandparents, he had to spend the time in prison with them."

For his part, Sheikh told NDTV that "I had three friends in the jail" and was glad to be back in India.

"I want to go home and play and study and eat," he told NDTV, adding, "I want to become a policeman when I grow [up]."


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