30 Rohingya refugees detained in Assam

30 Rohingya refugees detained in Assam

Rohingiya refugees detained in Karimganj in South Assam on Monday. Photo by Pranab Shil, Agartala.

A total of 61 Rohingya refugees, who reportedly fled Jammu after being allegedly threatened by the locals were caught by BSF in Tripura and police in South Assam in the past 24-hours.

Thirty-one refugees, including 10 minors, who remained stranded at ‘zero point’ along Indo-Bangladesh border near Tripura capital Agartala since Friday, were detained by BSF on Tuesday and handed over to Amtoli police station. Both BSF and Border Guards Bangladesh (BSF) had refused to accept them.

BGB alleged that they were pushed into Bangladesh but BSF refuted the charges while making the same allegation. “Since they remained stranded under the open sky for the past four days, on the humanitarian ground we allowed them to come inside. They were immediately detained for violating the Indian Passport Act by illegally entering India from Bangladesh side,” a BSF officer in Agartala said.

The Rohingiyas, however, alleged that BSF had snatched their refugee certificates issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which allowed them to live in India as asylum seekers.

Mohammad Sahjahan, one of the detainees, who spoke in Hindi said they settled in Jammu since the riot in Myanmar in 2012 but fled last week following a threat by locals in Jammu. “Many families have already fled Jammu and left for Bangladesh. Also since 12 Rohingiyas were recently sent from Assam to Myanmar, we are fearing similar action. We don’t want to go to Myanmar as the situation there is not normal. So we came to Tripura by train and crossed the border at night a few days ago. But Bangladesh forces caught us,” he said.

Another 30 Rohingyas were caught by police in South Assam’s Karimganj district on Monday evening while they were coming back to Guwahati from Agartala. Nor Islame, one of them, who also spoke in Hindi claimed that they lived in Jammu but a youth from Kolkata brought them to Guwahati and then to Agartala with the promise of jobs.

"We stayed in a hotel and were searching for a rented house. But the hotel staffs told us that police can push us into Bangladesh as Agartala shares borders with Bangladesh. We got scared and boarded a bus for Guwahati," he said.

Police said they had UNHCR certificates but were caught for verification since they did not get prior information about their movement.

Thousands of Rohingya Muslims had fled Myanmar following the ethnic clash, the latest being the exodus of 7.20 lakh in August 2017, who are still taking shelter in Bangladesh. According to the union home ministry, nearly 40,000 Rohingyas are living in India, mostly in Jammu, Hyderabad, Kanpur and Delhi. The UNHCR said there are 18,000 registered Rohingiya refugees and asylum seekers in India at present.

Ravi Nair, of the South Asia Human Rights Documentation Centre told DH that many Rohingiyas were leaving Jammu due to intimidation by Hindutva fundamentalists. “Even Jammuites are being warned against giving employment to them,” he said.