In the past two weeks, two persons with psychological problems have been found from the same spot along River Feni on the Indo-Bangla border in Tripura.
The Border Security Force (BSF) is suspecting a pattern in such persons turning up along points where the international border is not fenced. With the latest case, the third in a month, BSF detained a middle-aged man on Friday evening. He was later handed over to the local police.
“We resist such attempts in most places. But there was some tension when Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) took position yesterday across River Feni in Amtali area of Sabroom. The man became afraid and ran to our side of the border,” a BSF spokesperson told indianexpress.com.
Swapan Chowdhury, 60-year-old resident of Dashamighat area near Amtali village, said he was he was the first to spot the Bangladeshi man crossing the river around 2.30 pm on Friday. He said the BSF personnel on duty in the area asked him to return to Bangladesh, but a group of people from the other side threatened him of dire consequences if he came back .
On April 12, a middle-aged woman was found stranded on a small sandbar on River Feni, which divides India and Bangladesh in southern Tripura for 11 days. She returned to Bangladesh after the BSF denied her entry.
Tripura’s 856-km-long international border with Bangladesh hardly has any ‘No Man’s Land’ and the zero line acts as the boundary. The Indian side has barbed wire fence erected 150 yards inside the zero point, Bangladesh has its border pillars. But, 67 km of the border is still unfenced in different patches on the Indian side, especially in Kathalchari, Amtali and some villages of Sabroom.
The BSF suspects the Bangladeshi side is clearing their area of mentally unsound individuals and pushing them into India. At least 18 such individuals from Bangladesh are now under treatment at the Modern Psychiatric Hospital in Agartala.
South Tripura District Magistrate Debapriya Bardhan too underlined how these cases have been happening repeatedly over the last month. “Their repeated presence is a matter of concern. We are looking into it,” he said.
Bardhan said the person detained on Friday is currently housed in a quarantine centre for the next 14 days. Since several parts of Bangladesh are highly affected by Covid-19 including areas adjoining the border with Tripura, his samples were collected and sent for testing. “We haven’t been able to identify him yet. He is speaking, albeit incoherently about living on the other side of border,” he added.
South Tripura Superintendent of Police Jal Singh Meena confirmed the detention. Once recovered, these individuals are sent back to Bangladesh, Dr Jyotirmoy Ghosh of the hospital recently said. Earlier this year, Dr Ghosh had handed over Bithi Akhter, one such patient who was treated for eight years in Tripura, back to her family in Bangladesh at an Integrated Check Post (ICP) here.