India repatriates nine-year-old Bangla girl
Four years ago, Afroza Khatun along with her mother and brother was caught by security personnel for illegally entering India from Bangladesh.
Her mother, Manowara Begum, died here while brother Parvez repatriated in 2010, leaving the now nine-year-old girl in a facility run by an NGO in West Bengal’s Nadia district.
The three-year-old wait, after her brother returned, ended on Saturday when she flew to Dhaka with senior Border Security Force (BSF) officials as India in a humanitarian gesture decided to repatriate her. The BSF officials were on a five-day visit to Dhaka for the bi-annual border talks.
The girl was handed over by BSF Additional Director-General B D Sharma to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) Director-General Aziz Ahmed.
Afroza was living in the NGO office after her mother died in October 2009 in a hospital while serving a sentence for illegally crossing the border. In January 2009, Manowara and her children, residents of Natore in Bangladesh, were apprehended in South Dinajpur of West Bengal and were convicted.
Young Parvez, then nine-years-old, was sent to a juvenile home as per rules, while Afroza stayed with her mother. Manowara was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and fined Rs 10,000, and was sent to Balurghat district correctional home.
Manowara was transferred to the Berhampore central correctional home in Murshidabad district for better treatment, but she died in October 2009. Parvez was sent back in 2010, while the repatriation of Afroza hung in balance due to non-completion of legal procedures.
Sharma, who took her to Dhaka, incidentally was heading the prisons directorate of the state (West Bengal Correctional Service) when Afroza was in custody. Sharma is part of the BSF delegation which will be holding talks with their Bangladeshi counterparts on issues of mutual interest.
The top commanders of the border forces of both countries will deliberate on a number of issues, including illegal crossing over and migration to India and smuggling of narcotics along the eastern frontier.