Agartala: Bangladesh has taken back the tribals who have been sheltering in the Indian state of Tripura since Monday following an ethnic strife in the former’s Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) region, an official said Sunday.
Officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) after holding a series of meetings on the issue, said 92 of the over 350 men, women and children were repatriated late Saturday to Bangladesh in the presence of senior civil and security officials of the two countries.
“After entering into Tripura, many tribals mingled with the same community people of the state. We are looking for them and if we find them, they would be pushed back to Bangladesh,” an official of the Dhalai district administration told reporters.
Over 350 tribals, including women and children of over 70 families of Chakma and Tripuri tribes, have taken refuge in four villages of northern Tripura’s Gandachara area, around 200 km northeast of Agartala, along the Bangladesh border since June 2.
Earlier, the Tripura government communicated the matter to the union home and external affairs ministries.
An official of Tripura’s home department told IANS that Tripura Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar Panda and Dhalai District Magistrate Milind Ramteke had separately spoken to Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pankaj Saran to take up the matter with the Bangladesh government.
The district administration has provided food and relief to the immigrant tribals.
According to the Tripura government officials, the tribals, mostly Buddhists and Hindus, fled from their villages in Bangladesh after some “miscreants” allegedly attacked their homes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), a tribal dominated area in southeast Bangladesh that borders India and Myanmar.
BGB officials during the meetings, however, told their BSF counterparts that tribals were not attacked.
“Only a market was burnt recently and after that the fear-stricken tribals left their villages and took shelter in Tripura.”
In a similar incident related to ethnic trouble in August last year, over 1,500 tribals took shelter in the border village of Karbook after fleeing from five villages in the same Khagrachari district over the reported abduction of a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Tripura shares an 856-km border with Bangladesh that is porous because it extends over densely forested mountains. Over 25 to 30 percent of the India-Bangladesh border is still unfenced.