Agartala: The Border Security Force (BSF) on Tuesday finally took charge of the 31 Rohingya immigrants who were stranded in ‘no man’s land’ along the Bangladesh border near West Tripura since Friday.
The immigrants, including six men, nine women and 16 children, were allegedly stuck over a blame game between the border guards of the two neighbouring countries over their refuge.
On Tuesday, the BSF handed them over to the Amptali police station. The police have lodged an FIR against the Rohingya nationals under the Indian Passport Act for illegally entering Indian territory.
The immigrants, which included six men, nine women and 16 kids, were reportedly detained by the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) personnel, after which they informed their Indian counterpart, Border Security Force (BSF), about their presence, and were lodged at the Rayemura fencing in zero line.
The immigrants are now, reportedly, being taken care of by the BSF and have been provided with food and clothing. They have also been taken for a medical examination.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged of India taking up the issue with Bangladesh, with the ministry of external affairs expected to hold talks with the Bangladesh government for the safe return of the immigrants.
Speaking to EastMojo, Ajay Kumar Das, Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Amtali, said, “Initially, we were not willing to take them in; neither did the BGB. But considering their situation, the BSF detained them on humanitarian grounds. However, any infiltration into Indian territory without valid documents is always a threat. While the reason behind their immigration could be anything, that stands immaterial as they have entered illegally.”
When asked if the Rohingyas were migrating from Jammu and Kashmir to Bangladesh via Tripura, Das maintained, “Prima facie, it appears to be false that the Rohingyas were from J&K, as they were not carrying refugee ID cards with them issued by the United Nations. They are Rohingyas who are infiltrating into India through Bangladesh.”
However, Abdu Shukur, one of the Rohingyas detained by the BSF, told EastMojo, “My father, brother and sister, all are living in Bangladesh’s Kutupalong refugee camp at Chittagong, and I was trying to go back to them after escaping from J&K. The people of Jammu threatened us to leave Jammu. We were going to Bangladesh from India, but we were held by the BGB, and later left at the ‘no man’s land’, and were eventually detained by the BSF on the Indian side.”
When asked if they were carrying UN-issued refugee ID cards with them, Shukur accused the BGB and the BSF of taking them away. He said, “The BGB asked for our ID cards and we gave them a photocopy of our refugee cards. On the Indian side, the BSF asked us to show them our cards and as we did, they took away our original refugee cards, the only ID we were carrying.”
Another Rohingya national, Mohammad, said, “We escaped Myanmar after the ethnic cleansing in the state in 2012, and entered India through the Kolkata border and have been working as labourers in Jammu. But since we started receiving warnings in Jammu, we decided to go back to Bangladesh. We took a train from Jammu to Tripura and then a man took Rs 800 from each one of us and helped us cross the border.”
When asked if there are any other Rohingyas in Jammu, Mohammad said, “There are about 1,000 Rohingya families in the state.”