Twelve suspected Rohingya refugees detained in Mizoram on May 5 have been relocated to state-run shelter homes, PTI quoted the police as saying on Wednesday. The eight women and four minor boys are believed to be victims of human trafficking, and were found at the home of a woman in state capital Aizawl.

Northern Range Deputy Inspector General of Police Lalbiakthanga Khiangte told the news agency that language barrier was hindering investigation. “While the boys were sent to a home for orphans, the women have been moved to another protected shelter home, both maintained by the state social welfare department,” Khiangte said. “It seems that all 12 of them were brought to Mizoram from Bangladesh refugee camps.”

The police official said the group might have been brought into the state from Bangladesh via the porous border with Assam.

The woman at whose home the group had been found told the police that she had sheltered them as a favour to her cousin in Myanmar’s Tahan city. No one in the group has valid travel documents, the agency reported. The woman said this was the fifth time she had provided people shelter in her home before they were taken to Myanmar.

In late April, eight Rohingya women were arrested at the India-Myanmar border in Vairengte town for attempting to enter Mizoram illegally.

The Rohingya crisis

More than seven lakh Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after the Myanmar Army started a crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017 in response to attacks by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an insurgent group, on police posts and a military base.

Most of them live in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar in the country’s southeast coast. In February, Bangladesh requested India to help with the early repatriation of the Rohingya to Rakhine province of Myanmar.

A number of the Rohingya sought refuge in India after the Army crackdown. However, since May 2018, at least 2,000 of them have reportedly left for Bangladesh. Rohingya refugees face open hostility in India, from both the society and the state. In October, India deported seven Rohingya refugees to Myanmar despite opposition from human rights organisations. Five more were deported on January 4. None of them were granted citizenship rights in Myanmar even though the Centre had assured the Supreme Court their rights would be recognised.