The 31 Rohingya, who were stuck between India and Bangladesh borders for four days, were among the over 100 refugees who left camps in J&K’s Narwal area over the past fortnight. Last Tuesday, BSF arrested the refugees and handed them over to Tripura Police.
All of them had been staying in rented jhuggis on land belonging to one Jamat Ali since 2014. While others seem to have managed to enter Bangladesh, these 31 got stuck, their neighbours told The Indian Express. For safe passage to Bangladesh from India, they paid agents Rs 10,000 per person and to arrange money, they sold all belongings at throwaway prices, said Jamaat Ali’s son Ishfaq.
They had been living peacefully till police and revenue officials started collecting biometric details of refugees from Myanmar, said Nazim ul Haq. Haq said those who were stuck between the borders included his mother-in-law, sisters-in-law and other relatives.
The drive to collect biometric details had followed campaigns by some outfits demanding deportation of the refugees. During the drive, Haq said, rumours spread that the government was collecting their details to send them back to Myanmar from where they fled following a military offensive.
He said groups of Myanmar refugees had been holding discussions about their fate for the past three-four months. However, the immediate provocation for them to leave for Bangladesh was India’s move to deport five members of a Rohingya family to Myanmar in Manipur early this year, he said.
Haq said he too had planned to leave. “I would have been left alone here as all my relatives were leaving,’’ he said. However, he said, he could not arrange money to pay the agent on time. “I decided to meet them (relatives) later. In the meantime, news came about their getting stuck between borders.’’ Ishfaq said, “When we came to know about these families planning to go to Bangladesh, we advised them against it. But, all of them, except one or two, left without informing us.’’
One of the refugees, Abu Ahmed, said his wife Jahanu left for Guwahati last week as she wanted to go to Bangladesh where her 78-year-old ailing mother lives. Ahmed said Jahanu managed to reach Bangladesh, but was caught by police there. However, after keeping her at police station for two days, they shifted her to a camp for Myanmar refugees, he added. “She went with my brother’s daughter Mujtaba and her husband Kamal. Mujtaba and Kamal were lucky and reached the camp there without getting caught.’’
S-I Vikas Hans, who took over as incharge of Narwal police post a few days ago, said he has heard about some Rohingya families having left their jhuggis here for Bangladesh. Though he had heard that some of them were stuck between India and Bangladesh borders, no one came forward to inform them, he said. Pervez Sajjad, SHO of Trikuta Nagar, under which Narwal falls,confirmed receiving reports about Rohingya leaving Jammu without informing anybody. “They are leaving on their own. There is no pressure from any quarter.”