Assam tries to deport 14-yr-old Rohingya girl; Myanmar doesn’t open border gate
Myanmar on Thursday refused to accept a 14-year-old Rohingya girl who had arrived in India nearly two years ago under unclear circumstances.
A team of Assam Police from Cachar district accompanied her to the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur’s Moreh where she was supposed to be handed over. But the immigration department of the neighbouring country refused to open the gate of the international border saying that the situation is not appropriate for any deportation currently.
An immigration official from India confirmed the report and assured that the girl will be sent back to Silchar for now. He said, “We all know that the situation in Myanmar is not peaceful and it is not safe to send this minor girl now. But there are some procedures in these cases, and we have to follow them. When Myanmar immigration officials refused to open the gate, we agreed. In fact, they had closed the border gate due to the Covid-19 pandemic last year and it may take some months to reopen the gate. We are planning to send the girl to a shelter home in Silchar where she was residing.”
The official further added, “The girl is not willing to go to Myanmar as her parents are in Bangladesh at present.”
The minor girl belongs to Myanmar’s Rohingya community and is believed to be a victim of human trafficking. She had earlier written to India’s Ministry of External Affairs and requested to be sent back to her country. Her parents are reportedly staying in a refugee camp in Bangladesh.
Cachar police officials have confirmed that after bilateral talks between officials of India and Myanmar, they took the girl to the international border to deport her. A team of eight police officers accompanied her on Thursday morning.
Silchar-based human rights activist Kamal Chakraborty called this attempt to deport the girl inhuman. He said, “Report suggest that her parents are in a Bangladeshi refugee camp and the situation in Myanmar is volatile, so how did the Indian government even think of sending a minor girl to that country? This is a clear case of human rights violation. We are going to write a letter to the Ministry of External Affairs about it. We are also going to give her proper shelter so that she doesn’t become a victim of such attempts in future.”
According to Cachar police, the minor girl was found in an unconscious condition at Rongpur area near Silchar town in 2019. After rescuing her, the police handed her over to the Ujjala Shelter Home for Girls and Women for counselling. She stayed there for almost a year and was later sent to the Nivedita Nari Sanstha.
Diba Roy from Nivedita Nari Sanstha said, “She was sent to our shelter home last year. She wanted to go back to her country so she had written a letter to the Centre. A response came from the ministry and the girl was taken to court. Later, the process of sending her back started.”
A counsellor from the Ujjala Shelter Home, Puja Das informed that the girl came to their centre in an almost unconscious condition. She did not understand the local languages. She was provided counselling and she learnt Bengali and English quickly. She once indicated that she had gone to Bangladesh from her country with her parents, who are still living there. But she does not know how she arrived in India.
Several Myanmar nationals who illegally entered Indian territory were arrested in the last few years. During lockdown last year, a group of Rohingyas were arrested near the Assam-Manipur border in Cachar district. During interrogation they revealed that many Rohingyas are residing in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir and they were also staying there.
Some of the detained Myanmar migrants have been deported in the last few years. The first deportation happened in 2018. Till date, around 40 Myanmar nationals have been sent back from Assam and a few from Manipur as well. At present, 22 illegal Myanmar migrants are staying in detention centres inside Silchar Central Jail.