More migrants returning to Bangladesh, shows BSF data

Till December this year, 3,173 persons were caught leaving against 1,115 entering

December 15, 2020 08:37 pm | Updated 10:27 pm IST - New Delhi

Border Security Force (BSF) officials present sweet boxes to Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) personnel on the occasion of the Diwali festival, at the India-Bangladesh border on the outskirts of Agartala, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

Border Security Force (BSF) officials present sweet boxes to Bangladesh Border Guard (BGB) personnel on the occasion of the Diwali festival, at the India-Bangladesh border on the outskirts of Agartala, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

In the past four years, nearly twice the number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants were caught leaving the country compared to those coming in illegally, according to data available with the Border Security Force (BSF) and the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) shows.

Till December 14 this year, as many as 3,173 illegal migrants were apprehended by the BSF when they were attempting to cross over to Bangladesh, three times more than 1,115 persons caught while trying to enter India through illegal means.

In the years 2019, 2018 and 2017 the numbers of Bangladeshis leaving the country stood at 2,638, 2,971 and 821 respectively compared to 1,351, 1,118 and 871 persons respectively who entered illegally.

In 2017, as many as 892 Indians were caught while crossing over to Bangladesh and 276 Indians while entering the country without any documents. However, such data is not available for subsequent years in the NCRB’s annual report.


A senior government official said the number of persons leaving the country could be more as there are instructions to avoid paperwork and documentation for out-migrants. Another official added that there has been a surge in numbers of illegal Bangladeshis leaving the country due to lack of work after the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

“If they are apprehended, we let them go back. If they are arrested, it leads to lengthy legal procedures and the illegal migrants then have to be placed in a shelter or detention home till their nationality is proved,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

On November 29, 2017, former BSF Director General K.K. Sharma had told a press conference in Delhi that they had instructions to push back Rohingyas to Bangladesh as they become a “liability” once they are arrested. Mr. Sharma had said it was difficult to distinguish between Rohingyas and Bangladeshis and the BSF personnel were not equipped to differentiate between the two on the basis of dialect.

The second official quoted above said between August 1 and November 15 this year, as many as 50 Bangladeshi nationals who had inadvertently entered India were handed over to the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) as a goodwill gesture.

“Since bilateral relations have improved, the two forces have decided that there should be zero killings on the border and as part of confidence building measures, 50 such people were handed over to the BGB,” he said.

On Wednesday, the BSF is organising a programme to commemorate the “50th anniversary of the Bangladesh Liberation war victory” at South Tripura-Bangladesh border.

On December 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina will hold a virtual summit to discuss bilateral issues, a first since the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was passed by the Parliament last year.

The Bangladesh PM had said in an interview earlier this year that the CAA that fast tracks citizenship to undocumented Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians, Jains and Buddhists who have been religiously prosecuted in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, was “not necessary.” India shares 4096.7 km border with Bangladesh with large porous stretches.

Difficult terrain

On March 3, Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai said in a written reply in Lok Sabha that, “some infiltrators are able to enter in a clandestine and surreptitious manner, mainly due to difficult riverine terrain in parts of international border with Bangladesh which are not amenable to physical fencing.”

He added that fencing along 900 km of border along Bangladesh could not be completed due to various reasons which includes “difficult terrain, riverine and marshy land, short working season, land acquisition problems, public protests and objections by Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB).”

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