New Delhi: The police arrested Tuesday 31 Rohingya Muslims stranded on the Indo-Bangla border after they were denied entry into Bangladesh and border officials failed to agree on what to do with members of the community fleeing a crackdown in India.
The BJP government regards the Rohingya as illegal aliens and a security risk, and has ordered that those who live in the country be identified and repatriated.
The stranded Rohingya, including women and children, had been stuck in no-man’s land on Bangladesh’s border with India since Friday. Two rounds of talks between border officials failed to find a solution. After nothing materialised, BSF soldiers handed over the refugees to the police in Tripura.
“We have arrested them under the Foreigners Act on charges of entering India without valid travel documents,” said police officer Ajay Kumar Das.
Hundreds of thousands of members of mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s Rohingya community have left the country fleeing military crackdowns and discrimination. Many have sought shelter in Bangladesh – where nearly one million live – but others have ended up in India, Southeast Asia and beyond.
The 31 had been living in Kashmir and some of them carried identity cards issued by the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. The UNHCR has issued about 16,500 Rohingya in India with identity cards that it says can help ‘prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention and deportation’. The Indian government does not recognize the cards.
Police had also arrested Monday another group of 30 Rohingya Muslims in Assam. They had moved to the north-eastern state after living for six years in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The arrests were made during a routine check by police and after interrogation we found they are all from Myanmar,” said Imon Saikia, a police official in the city of Karimganj where the group was arrested.