KOLKATA: Border Security Force (BSF) personnel posted on the Bengal frontier have been issued a simple command: push the Rohingyas back.
Confirming this to New Indian Express, BSF inspector-general (IG) P S R Anjaneyulu said border guards are acting firm against incursions by Rohingyas across the porous Indo-Bangladesh border in south Bengal.
"Earlier, we used to hand over suspected Rohingya immigrants to the West Bengal police. But now our directions are very clear and that is to push back all Rohingyas into Bangladesh," he said.
"It is pretty difficult to distinguish Bangladeshis from Rohingyas but we are successfully accomplishing our task with active local support," he added.
In its affidavit to the Supreme Court on Monday, the Union government has stated that Rohingyas are trying to enter India through the vulnerable Kolkata sector and touts in Bangladesh are helping them in infiltrating.
According to BSF records, a total of 175 Rohingyas have been caught while sneaking into India across the border in West Bengal. Cases have been filed against 37. The number of Rohingya interceptions peaked in 2013 when 108 were caught. The numbers declined thereafter: 12 in 2014; 22 in 2015; 26 in 2016; and 7 so far in 2017.
Andamans: The Rohingya route to South India
Highly placed sources in the BSF said Rohingyas also use the sea route from Chittagong in Bangladesh to Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Touts arrange their passage aboard merchant ships to Port Blair from where they travel in smaller boats to coastal areas in south India.
But ever since the violence in Rakhine state of Myanmar increased, refugees have been fleeing to Chittagong in Bangladesh, which has direct sea links to the Andaman islands. The BSF is collaborating with the Coast Guard, Customs and other agencies to prevent the use of merchant ships for Rohingya trafficking.