30 Rohingya Muslims held on bus from Agartala to Guwahati; 31 others stuck near Bangladesh border handed over to Tripura Police

Agartala: Thirty more Rohingya Muslims, including 12 children, have been apprehended along the Tripura-Assam border, taking the total number of those held over the past five days to 61, a senior police officer said on Tuesday.

The immigrants were on their way to Guwahati from Agartala in a bus, when the Assam Police held them at Churaibari area, about 200 km from Agartala, he said.

On Tuesday, the BSF handed over 31 Rohingya Muslims, who were holed up in no-man's land along the Bangladesh border in Tripura since 18 January, to Tripura Police.

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File photo of Rohingya refugees. AP

North Tripura District Superintendent of Police Bhanupada Chakraborty told PTI that 30 Rohingyas "were apprehended from a Guwahati-bound bus on Monday night during a frisking operation in Churaibari area of Assam."

Churaibari, spread across Tripura and Assam, connects the two states through National Highway 8. "Immediately after they were held, Karimganj district police in Assam contacted us. They told us that the Rohingya Muslims boarded the Guwahati-bound bus from Agartala," he said, adding that the immigrants were likely to be produced in a local court later.

Monday's arrest came five days after the 31 Rohingya Muslims were holed up behind the barbed wire fencing along the Bangladesh border in Tripura, as the border guards of both sides debated over their status.

They were handed over to the police by the Border Security Force (BSF) earlier in the day after talks with its Bangladesh counterpart failed to make any headway.

"The Rohingya Muslims were holed up behind the barbed fencing since 18 January. We took up the matter with Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) and requested them to take them back to Bangladesh which they denied. Several rounds of talks between the BGB and BSF failed and the issue could not be sorted out. So, we handed them over to the police," BSF DIG Brijesh Kumar said.

Pranab Sengupta, the officer-in-charge of Amtali police station here, said the refugees were sent to Tripura Medical College for a check-up. "During medical check-up, they were found to be all right and now we are preparing to produce them in court," Sengupta told PTI.

He added that the BSF provided the refugees food, water and other basic amenities from their own resources on humanitarian grounds. The barbed wire fence along the India-Bangladesh border is 300 feet inside the Indian territory.

More than 700,000 minority Rohingya Muslims fled from Myanmar's Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August, 2017, after a military crackdown, triggering a massive refugee crisis.

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

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Updated Date: Jan 22, 2019 18:49:04 IST

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