Most members of a group of 31 Rohingya Muslims who were arrested near the Tripura border on Tuesday were granted bail by a Tripura court the next day. However, they were all sent to jail as no one appeared to submit bail bonds for them, PTI reported.
The group had been stranded on the India-Bangladesh border for four days before the Border Security Force handed them over to the state police. The group was booked under the Passport Act for “trying to illegally infiltrate into Indian territory”. Neither India nor Bangladesh was willing to take them in.
They were presented before a local court, which sent the group to 14-day judicial custody on Tuesday. The court on Wednesday granted bail to seven women and 17 children and sent the remaining seven male Rohingyas to judicial custody for 14 days.
Their counsel Prasenjit Debnath sought their bail arguing that they not be treated as illegal immigrants as India was a signatory to the resolutions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. However, the children and women were sent to the Bishalgarh Central Jail after no one appeared to furnish the bail bonds of Rs 30,000 per person.
The 17 Rohingya children and their mothers have been provided a separate cell, Pranab Sengupta, officer-in-charge at Amtoli police station, said.
Earlier, both the Border Security Force and the Border Guards Bangladesh had claimed that the group had come from the other side. But from a preliminary interrogation after the arrests, it emerged that some of the refugees had come from Jammu and Kashmir, Amtoli Sub-Divisional Police Officer Ajay Kumar Das said on Tuesday.
The BSF handed over the group to the staff at Amtoli police station in West Tripura district at 11 am on Tuesday after receiving approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs, officials told PTI. Until the handover, the refugees had been provided with food and other necessities, BSF Deputy Inspector General Brajesh Kumar had said earlier.
The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority community from Myanmar’s Rakhine state who have faced persecution in the predominantly Buddhist nation for around four decades now. Over the years, thousands of Rohingya have sought refuge in Bangladesh and India. In August 2017, India announced that it was planning to deport all 40,000 Rohingya refugees in its territory.
Tripura Director General of Police Akhil Kumar Shukla said the BSF and the state police have increased vigilance along the border to check infiltration of Rohingya Muslims, PTI reported. Tripura and Bangladesh share a 856-km-long border.