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HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Infiltration of Rohingya Muslims fast increasing in West Bengal

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya, Hindustan Times  Kolkata, September 03, 2013
First Published: 11:44 IST(3/9/2013) | Last Updated: 11:48 IST(3/9/2013)

Infiltration of Rohingya Muslims through Bangladesh is rapidly increasing, BSF officials said on Monday.

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While the BSF have arrested 107 Rohingya Muslims from the Bangladesh border in North 24-Parganas, the state police have arrested 20.

“We increased our vigil on immigrants from Myanmar since the end of last year after some Rohingya Muslims were arrested from North 24-Parganas in last November,” Santosh Mehra, IG, BSF, said. Only two nationals from Myanmar were arrested from West Bengal in 2011 and six in 2012, Mehra said.

Sources in the BSF said that the Rohingya Muslims are infiltrating mainly through the Indo-Bangladesh border at Swarupnagar, Basirhat and Gaighata police station areas.

They claim that the state police had recently arrested seven Rohingya Muslims from Balurghat area in North Dinajpur.

“It was tough to interact with them as they neither speak nor understand Hindi, Bengali or English. Translators helped us out.” Mehra said. Interrogation revealed they had settled in Bangladesh but decided to move to India.

“Recently the Bangladesh government is taking initiative to send back Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar. They fled following the June 2012 riots with Buddhists, who are an overwhelming majority in Myanmar,” a senior BSF officer told HT. West Bengal shares a 2,217 km border with Bangladesh.

The Rohingya Muslims are facing an identity crisis. The Myanmar government has termed them as immigrants from Bangladesh and Dhaka has refused them shelter. In Buddhist-majority Myanmar, Muslims constitute only 4% of the population but they are a majority in some pockets bordering Bangladesh.

The UN has described the Rohingyas as ‘world’s most persecuted minorities’.

Mehra added that dealing with Rohingya Muslims has been tougher than dealing with Bangladeshi migrants.

“We contact the Bangladesh high commission after Bangladeshi migrants are held. We cannot contact anyone after Rohingyas are held since no country recognises them,” he added.

Intelligence agencies, however, are concerned with the infiltration of Rohingya Muslims not only because LeT founder Hafeez Saeed believes their cause worth fighting for but also because a section has links with Bangladesh-based terrorist outfit, Huji.

“However, no detained Rohingyas have any terrorist connection,” Mehra said.

Over the last 17 months, around 10,000 Rohingya Muslims have infiltrated into India and are staying in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. About 3,000 of them are now in and around New Delhi and are staying at various mosques.

Former vice-chancellor of Jamia Milia Islamia University, Nawab Zafar Jung, has taken up their cause, along with some Leftist student unions based in Jawharlal Nehru University (JNU), who demand the Rohingya Muslims be given the status of refugees.


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