The Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) has been repairing the barbed wire fence at the Bangladesh-Myanmar border for the past three days.
On Monday, the BGP members were seen deployed near Ghumdhum, Tumbru and Jolpaitoli border areas in Naikhongchhari upazila.
Locals believe that Myanmar is reinforcing the damaged fence to prevent the Rohingya refugees from returning to their country.
Since the repair started, camps have been set up for construction workers and heavy machinery has also been sighted. Several residents of Ghumdhum and Tumbru also reported an increase in BGP activities.
Locals noted that BGP has increased their presence and spread out to areas which they have never visited before. In their opinion, this reinforcement is in action to prevent the Rohingya from returning.
A small Rohingya slum has been established on the no-man’s land adjacent to Naikhongchhari’s Ghumdhum and Tumbru border, which lies barely a kilometre or two away from their home in Myanmar.
They reside in such close proximity in the hopes of returning home once the situation in Rakhine state calms down. The slum houses people like Abdul Matlab, Syed Alam, Kalo Miah, Mariam Begum, Fatema and many others, who even go back to see their damaged settlements once a day, somehow evading the BGP forces. Therefore, repairing and reinforcing the fence would make it difficult for them to move back and forth between the countries.
The Rohingya citizens also said the villages in Rakhine state currently remain empty, with no signs of settlement. However the remaining Rohingya, who could not flee the persecution in the state, are hiding in the woods.
The Myanmar government is also placing landmines at the border, which has further frightened the Rohingya.
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When asked, Border Guard Bangladesh 34 Commander Lt Col Monjurul Hasan Khan said: “Myanmar has been repairing their barbed wire fence, which is their internal matter. It does not fall under our jurisdiction. However, we are being very cautious. BGB is patrolling every inch of the border.”
The border between Bangladesh and Myanmar is 271km, where 208km is on land and 63km is water.
The Myanmar government has successfully installed a barbed wired fence across most of the border over the past five years.