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Freedom for ‘intruder’

Islampur, Sept. 11: A mentally challenged youth from Bihar is set to be reunited with his family, seven years after he was caught by the BSF, branded an infiltrator and almost pushed back to Bangladesh.

The fast-track third court here today ordered that 34-year-old Manoj Kumar Roy be handed over to his elder brother, Sunil Roy, on a bond of Rs 5,000. Judge Subhasis Ghosal ordered Manoj’s release from the Islampur subjail on the condition that he should be given treatment and his safety ensured, failing which the bond would be forfeited.

Manoj will be freed tomorrow morning. He has to be produced in court again on November 20.

On February 6 this year, Justice Kanchan Chakrabarty of Calcutta High Court had set aside an order passed by the sessions court in Islampur on September 9, 2008, to push Manoj back to Bangladesh.

The high court also ordered the lower court to hand over Manoj to a person or an institution for his treatment and said the case couldn’t be heard till he was declared mentally stable.

Manoj, a resident of Tatpeoa in Bihar’s Kishenganj district, had been picked up by the BSF from Sonamati (in North Dinajpur) along the border with Bangladesh on March 17, 2005 and handed over to the police. The youth’s sister, Rina Devi, filed a missing diary with the Sukhani police station in Kishenganj in a week.

Two years later, Rina Devi came to know from another person, who had served a sentence in the Islampur jail and hailed from Tatpeoa, that Manoj was in the prison. She and Sunil got in touch with a lawyer here, Firoz Ahmed, who took up the case for free and went to the high court furnishing details about Manoj’s citizenship.

Ahmed said a goof up had landed Manoj in jail. “Manoj told the BSF during his arrest that he was from Thakurganj. There is a Thakurgaon district in Bangladesh and Manoj’s home is in Thakurganj block of Kishenganj. Hearing the inconsistent replies of the youth, the BSF branded him a Bangladeshi,” said the lawyer.

Rina Devi was elated today. “The negligence by the BSF and the police led to my brother spending more than seven years in jail. We are grateful to Firoz Ahmed for his help. We are going to take good care of our brother,” she said.

Ahmed said the court would check his mental state when he would be produced again on November 20. “The jail authorities submitted a medical report to the court today, saying Manoj was not yet declared mentally fit. We will treat him and hope the case will be disposed of once he is cured,” said Ahmed.