New Delhi: India is likely to hold talks with Bangladesh to send back 31 Rohingya Muslims, who were detained by the Border Security Force (BSF) while attempting to cross over into Tripura, officials said. The Rohingya Muslims are stuck in no-man’s land, beyond the barbed wire fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura since Friday.
The local commandant of the BSF is in touch with his Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) counterpart, and the Ministry of External Affairs is expected to hold talks with the Bangladesh government for their safe return, a home ministry official said. The top brass of the BSF has briefed senior officials of the Home Ministry, which in turn is in regular touch with the Ministry of External Affairs. All the Myanmar-origin Rohingya Muslims were given “comfortable” temporary accommodation at Rayermura, where they were detained, about 15 km from Agartala, in West Tripura district, the official said.
The 31 detained Rohingyas include six men, nine women and 16 children. They are currently at ‘Zero Line’, beyond the border fence. The barbed wire fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border is 300 feet inside the Indian territory. The BGB has been stressing that the detained Rohingyas were from India, while the BSF has been claiming that they were from Bangladesh, another official said. The Indian government had informed Parliament in 2017 that over 14,000 Rohingya Muslims, registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, stay in India.
However, aid agencies estimate there are about 40,000 Rohingya people in the country, many of them suspected to have arrived through Bangladesh. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, described by the UN as the most persecuted minority in the world, fled their homes last year to escape an alleged crackdown by the Myanmarese military.
Several lakhs of them live in Bangladesh as refugees. Human rights group Amnesty International has denounced Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the country’s government for “burying their heads in the sand over the horrors unfolding in Rakhine State”. In October 2018, India had deported seven Rohingya Muslims, who had been staying in Assam illegally, to Myanmar, in a first such move.