Detainees claim they were afraid of NRC repercussions and have been persecuted by locals
Over the last 15 days, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) has detained more than 200 people, including women and children, after they illegally crossed over from India through border areas under Moheshpur upazila in Jhenaidah.
Officials of 58th BGB battalion said these people had claimed they are Bangladeshis. They fled different areas of India after facing persecution at the hands of locals and fearing repercussions after being left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
They had entered through the Joluli, Polianpur and Khoshalpur border areas under Moheshpur.
Of the detainees, 75 were women, 64 men and 64 children. Four of them were detained on Tuesday.
All detainees, mostly Muslims, were produced before local courts over trespassing charges and then sent to jail, said BGB officials.
Similarly, the paramilitary force early Wednesday also detained 54 people, including a trafficker, at Benapole and Daulatpur border areas in Jessore after they crossed over illegally, and were later sent to Benapole port police station.
Most of the trespassers are originally from Khulna, Bagerhat, Narail and Jessore. They had gone to India illegally over the years.
Lt Col Kamrul Ahsan, commander of BGB’s Moheshpur-based 58th battalion, said: “The people who once migrated to India are facing various problems, especially in areas like Bangalore. That’s why they are trying to re-enter Bangladesh with everything they have, claiming they once lived here. They don’t want to live in India anymore.
“Nonetheless, they are giving addresses of remote areas, which BGB cannot confirm immediately. But the higher officials have been notified.”
Many locals, however, claimed that the number of trespassers was higher than what BGB has detained — a claim Kamrul denied.
“We are strictly surveilling the border areas and there is no way anyone can trespass,” added the BGB official.
Moheshpur police station OC Rashedul Alam said most of the detainees have been living and working in India for over two decades. “Most of them are originally from Bagerhat and Khulna, and also have relatives in Bangladesh.”
The district’s Deputy Commissioner Saroj Kumar Nath said he met and spoke with some of the detained trespassers. “I’ve checked their claims and statements. They are Bangladeshis.”
Quoting them, he said, the detainees had been living in India without passports, working in households and different organizations. Recently, some people started making enquiries about them, while they were evicted from their shelters.
Under the circumstances, they fled to Bangladesh with the help of local traffickers and were detained by BGB, Saroj said.
Meanwhile, the upazila administration has decided to form committees at the ward level to prevent more people from trespassing into Bangladesh territory through Moheshpur border areas,
Sujon Sarkar, the acting upazila nirbahi officer (UNO), made the announcement on Thursday at a meeting on law and order with government officials concerned and representatives from BGB and police, according to media reports.
It was decided that the committees will be headed by the chairmen of the union parishads near the border and they will inform the BGB whenever any trespassing happens.