The two schoolboys, Ahsan Khursheed and Faisal Hussain Awan, were arrested last year on September 21 in connection with the attack on the Indian Army base in Uri town that left at least 19 soldiers dead. New Delhi blamed the attack on Pakistan and later claimed to have carried out a surgical operation against base camps of terrorists across the Line of Control, which was denied by Pakistan.
The NIA said it had handed the boys to an army unit in Jammu and Kashmir, which will facilitate their return home.
"Hussain and Khursheed have been released and handed over to the Army's 16 Corps headquarters today (Wednesday) for sending them back to Pakistani authorities," IANS quoted an NIA official. The NIA investigation revealed that the two youth crossed over to the Indian side after quarreling with their parents over "studies". They had strayed into this side of the border from Kashmir.
The agency said the evidence in the form of statements, analysis of terrorists' mobile phones, as well as the seized GPS devices did not reveal any link of the schoolboys with the Uri attackers.
Tensions between India and Pakistan have been simmering since the Uri terror attack. Soon after the attack, the Army claimed the attack was carried out by terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and that Hussain and Khursheed had confessed to being JeM members.
The Army also said the teenagers had confessed that they were guides for the four suicide terrorists, who had carried out the attack. But the NIA probe concluded that the boys were school-goers from Kashmir, who could have crossed over inadvertently, and then confessed under duress.
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