BSF jawans visit Bengal enclaves looking for Rohingya Muslims

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Border Security Force (BSF) jawans are patrolling enclaves of Cooch Behar district in West Bengal looking for possible infiltrating Rohingya Muslims from Bangladesh.

George Manjuram, DIG (general), North Bengal Frontier, BSF told DNA that some bordering areas have been alerted. “We are expecting some infiltration in some areas where there is a possibility of getting shelter. We are marshalling our troops wherever possible but it is huge international border with long stretches of open border,” he said.

He added that there were also joint patrolling of the BSF along with the district police and the RPF. “We have to prevent infiltration. They can come through any border. A joint action against any such attempts is required. In the last four years, my men have held 46 Rohingya Muslims who tried to infiltrate. They have been captured and jailed,” Manjuram told DNA.

Another BSF official said that it was an exercise to alert people and not to alarm them. “For these enclave dwellers, crossing over the international border is no big deal but they need to know that giving shelter to any Rohingya Muslim can bring serious consequences. That is why we are talking to them. You can say it is an awareness building programme to sensitise enclave residents about the problem at hand,” he said.

BSF jawans who have been patrolling at the enclaves had been visiting households enquiring about infiltrating Rohingyas. “They visited every households and stayed for a while at ours. They said they had been alerting everyone against infiltrators and enquiring if there had been any Rohingya Muslim who had crossed the border illegally and come to the enclaves,” talking to DNA said Jainal Abedin, a resident of Madhya Masaldanga, one of the enclaves in Cooch Behar district.

Another 40-plus resident of the same enclave said that they had been given stern warning against suppressing facts about Rohingyas. “They probably think we are all terrorists. BSF officials had given us a stern warning saying that we should not give shelter to any Rohingya Muslim who comes over, crossing the border. They have also said that if there is any problem or if we spot any Rohingya Muslim we should contact the BSF authorities,” he told DNA.

District Magistrate Kaushick Saha, however, said he had no idea of any such patrolling going on. “I don't think any precautionary step is necessary as there has been no case of infiltration,” he said. These enclave-dwellers reside near the Indo-Bangla bordering areas where they had been living as Bangladeshi citizens and had been given Indian citizenship two years ago following a Land Bill Agreement (LBA) between the two countries.
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