GUWAHATI, Feb 26 - In a significant verdict, the four-member Juvenile Justice Board, Assam (Guwahati), today convicted two teenage girls from Myanmar for illegally entering India, although it reserved the issue of their repatriation to the neighbouring country for the time being.
The Board put an embargo on repatriation initiatives in view of the statements of the two Rohingya Muslim girls, who claimed that they had entered the country fearing persecution and threat to life after their family members were killed by miscreants in ethnic clashes last year and also due to the absence of any confirmation from their home nation of guardianship.
The Board has also issued notices to the Ministry of External Affairs, Myanmar Embassy and the State Government to facilitate and ensure their safe repatriation.
The Board, in its judgement, set off the remand period for both the minors, which means that the period of stay at the observation home (Children�s Home, Jalukbari) since their arrest and also during the course of the trial would be treated as the total remand period and hence, they would not be entitled to any further remand.
The girls, both cousins, have been lodged in the Children�s Home since June 6, 2015.
However, till a conducive atmosphere is ensured for their safe repatriation, the two girls will remain in the Children�s Home, Jalukbari, and in this connection, a letter has already sent to the authorities concerned.
Termed by many as the most persecuted community in Myanmar, thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled their country fearing for their lives and sought refuge in different countries, including India, in the last few years. At present, there are 28 Myanmar nationals lodged in the detention camps of the State, including a convict.
The Rohingya girls were detained at the Guwahati Railway Station by the Government Railway Police (under the Foreigners� Act and Passport Act) in June last year when they were about to board a train to Jammu & Kashmir, which reportedly has the highest number of persecuted Rohingya Muslims.
The absence of any claim of guardianship was also taken into account by the Board, sources said. The girls had earlier deposed before the Board that they had no other choice after their families were killed during the ethnic clashes in Myanmar. They somehow managed to escape and a few days later, sneaked into the Indian side through Tripura.