Bangladesh authorities persuaded tribals from Chittagong Hill Tracts, who have assembled on the south Tripura border, to return. The tribals fled from their villages in Manikchari sub district of Khagrachari district after Bengali settlers indiscriminately torched their houses, a Border Security Force (BSF) official said. Chakma, Mog, Tripura and other tribes reside in these villages.

About 1,500 people crowded outside the barbed wire fence in eight points to seek refuge in India, but were prevented from crossing over, officials said.

Reports said the incident was fallout of the kidnapping of a local political leader allegedly by armed cadres of the United Peoples’ Democratic Front that rejects the peace treaty of 1997 to end insurgency in the hill tracts. The front terms the treaty as a sell out of rights and interests of tribals, popularly known as Jumma people.

Some of the evacuees who talked to media across the fence alleged that Bangladesh security forces didn’t intervene to disperse the rampaging mob.

The tribals gathered near the fence along Korbuk and Sabroom subdivisions in south Tripura. These were areas through which nearly 60,000 tribal refugees entered India in 1986 after large scale atrocities committed by the Bangladesh Army and Bengali settlers, and their precarious camp life ended with signing of peace agreement, but back home they continued to face unrest and anxiety.

A BSF official said security was augmented with deployment of additional troops. A BSF chopper was pressed into surveillance exercise in the area.

Tripura government concerned

Fresh exodus in the Tripura border caused concern for the Tripura government. The State government had several deliberations with the Union Home Ministry since Saturday evening, sources said.

Though prevented, BSF and local Indians provided evacuees food, water and plastic sheets before Bangladesh officials reached out only on Sunday afternoon. Two flag meetings between the BSF and the Border Guards, Bangladesh occurred which made the tribals return to their villages. It has been learnt that Bangladesh officials assured the tribals of security and compensation for their losses.

Meanwhile, tribal organisations in Tripura expressed anger in view of the current trouble in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.