NEW DELHI :
India is aware of 31 people from Myanmar’s Rakhine State along its border with Bangladesh and is providing them with food and shelter but New Delhi was not in any way associated with their movement into Bangladesh, a foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday.
The comment came as a PTI report said that India’s Border Security Force had handed over 31 Rohingya Muslims, stranded on the India-Bangladesh border since 18 January, to the Tripura Police after the BSF and Bangladeshi border guards accused each other of pushing the group into the other’s territory.
The PTI report quoted Deputy Inspector General of the BSF Brijesh Kumar as saying that the BSF had taken the matter up with the Bangladeshi Border Guards and requested them to take them back to Bangladesh which they refused to do. Several rounds of talks could not yield a solution so the group was handed over to the Tripura Police.
The Indian statement interestingly refers to the 31 as “persons originally from Rakhine State in Myanmar" and not as Rohingyas.
"The Government is aware of the presence of 31 persons originally from Rakhine State in Myanmar, currently at the Zero Line on the India-Bangladesh border," Indian foreign ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar said. “While their documentation and claims are being examined, necessary shelter, food and material are being provided to them by the forces guarding the Indian border," he said.
New Delhi was aware of media reports of the alleged movement into Bangladesh by some such persons, Kumar said, adding “the Government is not a party to such movements. We will work with our neighbours to handle such matters through mutual consultation."
Hundreds of thousands of members of mostly Buddhist Myanmar’s Rohingya community have left their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the decades, most fleeing military crackdowns and discrimination, a Reuters report said. Many have sought shelter in Bangladesh - where nearly one million live - but others have ended up in India, Southeast Asia and beyond.
In October, India had deported seven Rohingyas to Myanmar.