AJK boy detained by Indian army; family calls for repatriation

Published November 27, 2021
A picture of 14-year-old Asmaad Khan who is believed to have strayed across the Line of Control. — Photo by author
A picture of 14-year-old Asmaad Khan who is believed to have strayed across the Line of Control. — Photo by author

MUZAFFARABAD: Family of a teenage resident of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) on Friday urged the Indian authorities to release and repatriate him at the earliest because he had strayed across the Line of Control (LoC) out of ignorance.

Rashid Naeem Khan, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police in Poonch division, told Dawn by telephone that 14-year-old Asmaad Ali of Tetrinote village was believed to have strayed across the unmarked dividing line sometime in the afternoon on Thursday where he was taken into custody by the Indian army for questioning.

The 9th grade student was living with his maternal grandparents who had raised him after the death of his mother in his infancy, he said.

Teenager inadvertently strays across unmarked LoC

Mohammad Hameed, one of the relatives of Asmaad, told Dawn that the boy went to board his grandmother on a bus at 11am on Thursday but did not return home afterwards.

“Normally, while playing with colleagues he would return home after sunset. However, when he did not return home till late evening, we contacted different relatives to inquire about his whereabouts but to no avail,” he said.

DIG Khan said no complaint was lodged by Asmaad’s family with the police about his disappearance until a brief news item by an Indian wire service revealed his detention by the Indian army on the other side of the divide.

Mr Hameed said all relatives, particularly the grandparents, of the teenager were in a state of shock and stress, amid worries about his safety. “We all make an impassioned appeal to the Indian authorities to release and return him at the earliest because he has wandered across the divide out of ignorance,” he said.

DIG Khan pointed out that unlike occupied Kashmir, many AJK areas along the LoC had civilian populations ahead of the Pakistan army posts which was why unintentional movement across the unmarked divide, mostly by the women and young children, occurred sporadically.

“Unmindful of the hazards of their carelessness, young children and women often go astray along the LoC and land in trouble on the other side,” he said.

He recalled that in many cases Indian army had itself intruded into the AJK side of the LoC and whisked away innocent civilians, such as the Aug 18 seizure of three young boys who were fishing in a water channel serving as LoC in Taroti (Abbaspur) area of Poonch district.

Those boys were repatriated by the Indian army after two days.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2021

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