Barred at border: record arrests of Rohingya in 2018

Rohingya refugee woman Johara, 30, a mother of five children, speaks to the Associated Press in Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh, on Friday.   | Photo Credit: AP


Between 2015 and 2018, the Border Security Force (BSF) arrested around 478 Rohingya along the India-Bangladesh border, with 230 held in 2018 alone.

While the number of arrests in 2015 and 2016 were 54 and 71, respectively, it rose to 123 in 2017.

The figures were tabled in the Lok Sabha on January 1 by the Union Home Ministry in response to a question by K. Gopal, AIADMK MP.

No influx

Senior BSF officials operating along the India-Bangladesh border said the agency had apprehensions of large number of Rohingya trying to enter the country after August 2017, after nearly 7,00,000 fled Myanmar. However the expected influx did not take place. “Because of the designated camps set up by the Bangladesh government, Rohingya did not try to cross over to India in large numbers,” a senior BSF official told The Hindu.

Of the 478 Rohingyas, who have been apprehended, some have been arrested not for trying to enter the country but while attempting to leave, BSF officials said. Home Ministry estimates say there are around 40,000 Rohingya in India, of whom only 16,000 are said to be registered with the United Nations.

After the arrests along the border, the Rohingya are handed over to the police, who book them under the Foreigners Act. “Once Rohingya are arrested and handed over to the police, their presence in the country becomes official. The only process left with the agencies to send them to their country is through deportation which can take lot of time,” another BSF official said. Earlier this month, five Rohingya from Assam were deported to Myanmar through the Moreh border in Manipur. They entered the country in 2014.

Barred at border: record arrests of Rohingya in 2018

600 pushed back

Under such circumstances, BSF officials said they were pursuing a policy of “pushing back” anyone trying to enter the country. The number of those, including Rohingya, pushed back is much higher than those apprehended. According to reports more than 600 Rohingya were pushed back in 2018 alone.

The influx and efflux of Rohingya refugees has brought into focus the porosity of the India-Bangladesh border. Of the 4,096.7-sq km border between India and Bangladesh, only 2,785.5-sq km has been fenced.

The border in West Bengal is said to be the most porous stretch and used for illegal crossings. As recently as December 21, 2018, a group of 14 Rohingya, including six children, were apprehended for illegally entering the country at Habra in the State’s North 24 Parganas. Rohingya apprehended in other States like Manipur have also claimed that they had entered India through West Bengal.

“The porosity in West Bengal-Bangladesh border is different than in other northeastern States. This is because of villages with dense population extending till the international border are located on the both sides of the border in the region,” a BSF official said.

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Printable version | Jun 13, 2021 3:34:39 AM |

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