The attempts to hold a third flag meeting failed on Monday, with no one from the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) turning up to decide on an action plan for the Rohingyas stranded at the India-Bangladesh border.
All the 31 Rohingyas, who have been stranded on the Zero Line between the international borders of India and Bangladesh in West Tripura district for the last 96 hours, hail from the Rakhine State of Myanmar, officials said today.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, a BSF Public Relation Officer (PRO) who didn’t wish to be named, said that the Rohingyas have been stranded between barbed wire fence on the Indian side and border pillars of Bangladesh since January 18. The BGB first claimed to have detained them trying to cross the border and called up BSF authorities at 8:30 pm.
“Since then we have had two rounds of flag meetings on Zero Line but BGB is just not ready to take them back. Meanwhile, we have orders from Delhi not to accept and take the Rohingyas inside the Indian territory. They are not our nationals. How can we take them back?” the official asked.
However, on humanitarian grounds, the BSF has provided food, drinking water, tents and blankets to the Rohingyas stranded on the border since Saturday.
The BSF official said the Rohingya persons were questioned about their whereabouts and identity.
“We have started preliminary questioning. We are asking them their names, age, place of origin and the route of their journey. So far, we have come to know that most of them are from four districts of Rakhine state in Myanmar. These are Mandaw, Bhusidang, Maungdaw and Manandaw”, the official informed.
“There are sixteen children among these people. We have urged BGB to consider the situation and take them back. BGB has stopped picking our phone calls now”, the BSF PRO said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had in a letter in October 2017, ordered immediate steps to all state governments to identify and monitor Rohingya refugees.
MHA Joint Secretary Dilip Kumar said in the letter that the Government of India viewed “infiltration” from the Rakhine State into the Indian territory as a burden on the country’s limited resources and claimed it aggravated security challenges.
Rohingya belong to the Rakhine State in Myanmar, which was previously known as Arakan. They allegedly faced persecution at the hands of Myanmar’s military since the country’s independence in the late 1940s.
Different Rohingya villages in Rakhine State in south-west Myanmar faced a military crackdown by the Myanmarese Army in the wake of a deadly attack on an Army post by Rohingya rebels in 2016. The ongoing military crackdown which began in August 2017, led to mass exodus of the Rohingyas to all nearby nations, especially Bangladesh.
Myanmar’s military regime stripped Rohingya Muslims of their nationality as per the Burma Citizenship Law, 1982. Since then, many who fled the country have been living in refugee camps in Bangladesh. Some have tried to return home. Over the years, But the conditions in Arakan have not improved significantly.
The UNHCR has termed alleged mass killings and burning of Rohingya villages by Myanmarese Army as ‘ethnic cleansing’.