Detained Rohingya refugees remain stranded between India-Bangladesh border

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Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) have alleged that the Border Security Forces (BSF) have been pushing the Rohingyas into the Bangladeshi territory and that the group stranded between the borders has come from India.

Two days after Bangladesh’s border security forces detained at least 31 Rohingya refugees, there has been no headway in the matter as the refugees remain stranded along the zero line, between the international borders of India and Bangladesh, on Tripura’s frontier.

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The Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) has alleged that the Border Security Forces (BSF) has been pushing the Rohingyas into the Bangladeshi territory and that the group stranded between the borders has come from India. The BSF disputed these claims saying there is no tell-tale sign of breach of the fence on the Indian side and the Rohingyas could not have gone from India. The BSF has also offered the BGB to join a survey on the Indian side to identify any sign of a breach.

On Sunday a Battalion Commander level meeting was held along the zero line at 11 am. “The BGB battalion commander was of the same view that Rohingyas came from Indian side. We have denied their allegations and said there is no tell-tale sign of breach of fence on Indian side,” BSF DIG Belwa said. He added that the Rohingyas might have come from the other side (Bangladesh).

Meanwhile, the BSF has provided food, water and other basic amenities from their own resources to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds.

“We have instructed our company commander to conduct a preliminary questioning so that we can know their age, name, gender composition and profile. They have been sitting in the open for the last two days. We provided them with food, water and other basic needs from our own resources last night,” the BSF official informed. Speaking to indianexpress.com, BSF Deputy Inspector General CL Belwa said Sunday that a BGB commanding officer made a telephone call to a BSF official on January 18 and informed that they had detained 31 Rohingya Muslims near the International Border.

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“The BGB official insisted that BSF take over the Rohingyas inside Indo-Bangladesh Border (IBB) Fencing and alleged that BSF has been pushing Rohingyas into Bangladesh Territory. However, we have strictly denied the allegation,” the official said.

“We were expecting that BGB will contact us for a flag meeting. But they did not communicate, rather we communicated and yesterday 12 o’clock, an officer level meeting was conducted at the zero line where second-in-command of our battalion and second-in-command of their battalion came right on the zero line,” DIG Belwa said.

He added that the BSF offered BGB officials to come and survey the Indian side to see if there is any breach of barbed wire fence. However, the Bangladesh authorities declined and stuck to their demand that the BSF accept the Rohingyas into the Indian territory.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in a letter in October, 2017, had ordered immediate steps to all state governments to identify and monitor Rohingya refugees and said the Government of India viewed “infiltration” from the Rakhine State of Myanmar into the Indian territory as burden on limited resources of the country and claimed it aggravated security challenges to the country. In 1982, Myanmar’s military regime had stripped Rohingya Muslims of their nationality as per the Burma Citizenship Law. Since then, many who fled the country were living in refugee camps in Bangladesh while some tried to return home.