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Africa & World
Apr 29 2012 3:24PM
 
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A five-year-old Indian boy left a jail in Bangladesh on Sunday after being incarcerated for more than a year when he was picked up by police on the border along with his grandparents.

Ariful Sheikh was reunited with his parents in India's West Bengal state at the end of an ordeal widely condemned by rights groups and the Indian government.

"I was in a jail in Bangladesh. I am happy to be back with my parents," Ariful told Indian news channel NDTV as he was handed over to his mother and father at the Gede checkpoint on the border.

Ariful's grandparents, who had the boy with them, had been found guilty of entering Bangladesh without permission when they tried to meet relatives living over the border.

His grandparents who were also released on Sunday were sentenced to two months in Kustia jail, but spent more than a year there due to a "procedural delay" to repatriate the group, jail chief Omar Faruq said.

"Five-year-old Ariful was not sentenced, but since he came with his grandparents, he had to spend the time in prison with them," Faruq told AFP.

"They had to stay an additional 11 months in prison because it took a lot of time to get confirmation from Indian officials that they were indeed citizens of India," he said.

Human rights lawyers brought the case to the media's notice earlier this month, leading to pressure from New Delhi on the Dhaka government.

Many families remain split by a 4,000-kilometre (2,500-mile) border that was drawn up by British cartographers when they divided the Indian subcontinent in 1947. In recent years, India has fenced long stretches of the border in a bid to cut illegal migration from Bangladesh.  -AFP

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