12 Bangladeshi nationals, including 7 children, stranded on Indo-Bangla border for six days

India's Army soldiers. Photo: India Today. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

AGARTALA, Jul 17, 2020, HT. A stand-off between the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Border Guards of Bangladesh (BGB) personnel over the nationality of 12 Bangladeshis, including four women and seven children, have led to a humanitarian crisis, as these people are stranded on the Indo-Bangla border at Miyapara in Tripura’s Sipahijala district since July 11 amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, Hindustan Times reported.

The 12 Bangladeshis have been identified as Kulsum Bibi (60), Barsida Begam (35), Rajita Begam (30), Mohinuddin (22), Sajana Begam (21), Shakil Miah (14), Ravena Khatun (12), Sakib (11), Raja Hossain (9), Rashmi Akhtar (4), Alia Khatun (3). and Rajaul Hossain (2).

BSF’s probe has revealed that the stranded people belong to Bangladesh’s Comilla district.

“On July 11 at about 6 pm, 12 people, including a man, four women, and seven children, were traced near border pillar No. 2039/12-S. They revealed to a BSF patrol party that they are residents of Harikula village under Chandina police station of Bangladesh’s Comilla district. They were directed to go back to Bangladesh’s territory,” stated a BSF press release issued on Thursday evening.

However, BGB personnel has refused to take them back, as they allegedly don’t have valid documents to prove their Bangladeshi nationality.

Initially, a flag meeting was held between BSF and BGB personnel on July 11, where the latter made their stand clear.

Three days later, another flag meeting was held, where the BSF personnel handed over the documents of the 12 stranded people, including photographs, home addresses, family tree chart and a compact disc (CD) containing a video clip that depicted a purported conversation between Kulsum Bibi and her son in her native Bangladesh, to BGB authorities,

“ … as per the understanding between the BSF and BGB personnel, women and children apprehended at the International Border have to be handed over/accepted by BGB/BSF, subject to confirmation of their nationality, immediately after apprehension, and treating them as victims of human trafficking,” the release added.

BSF authorities have alleged that their Bangladeshi counterparts are deliberately delaying the process of ascertaining the nationality of the 12 people, who are stranded on the Indo-Bangla border since July 11.

The BSF is providing basic amenities to the stranded people on humanitarian ground.

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