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BSF hands over 31 stranded Rohingyas to Tripura Police

Agartala/New Delhi | The BSF on Tuesday handed over the 31 Rohingya Muslims, who were stranded on the India-Bangladesh border since January 18, to the Tripura police, after the paramilitary force and its counterpart, the BGB, failed to reach a decision during talks on the issue, officials said.

The Rohingyas were stuck in no-man’s land, beyond the barbed wire fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura since last Friday. The situation led to a blame game between the Border Security Force (BSF) and its counterpart — Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) — with the two sides accusing each other of pushing them into their territories.

Deputy Inspector General of the BSF Brijesh Kumar said, “The Rohingyas were behind the barbed wire fence since January 18. We took up the matter with the BGB and requested them to take them back to Bangladesh. They denied. Several rounds of talks with the BGB had failed. So, we handed them over to police.”

A battalion commander-level meeting was held at the Zero Line on Sunday, the officials said.

Officials in New Delhi said the BSF informed the Home Ministry about the final result of the talks and gave the situation report.

After receiving the ministry’s nod, the BSF signed the papers and handed over the 31 Rohingyas to the staff of the Amtoli police station in West Tripura district police at 11 am, ending the standoff with their Bangladeshi counterparts.

Pranab Sengupta, officer-in-charge of the Amtali police station, said the Rohingyas were sent to the Tripura Medical College for a check-up and will be produced before a local court later.

“During medical check-up, they were found to be alright,” Sengupta told PTI.

He said the BSF provided them food, water and other essentials on humanitarian grounds.

The 31 Rohingyas include six men, nine women and 16 children. They were detained at Rayermura, about 15 km from Agartala, in West Tripura district, according to the officials.

While the BGB claimed they had come from India, the BSF said they had not as there was no tell-tale sign of breach of the barbed wire fence on the Indian side.

In 2017, 12 Rohingyas were apprehended in Tripura and 62 more were detained in different parts of the state the next year.

In October 2017, the Home Ministry had urged all states to take immediate steps to identify and monitor Rohingya refugees.

It had said that the government viewed infiltration of Rohingyas from Rakhaine state of Myanmar into the Indian territory as a burden on the country’s limited resources and it aggravated security challenges.

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