The Centre has urged the West Bengal government to let in 2,680 people from the state, who have been stranded in neighbouring Bangladesh since the coronavirus-induced lockdown was imposed in March, PTI reported on Sunday.

The Ministry of External Affairs made a similar request a few weeks back to allow the people to enter the state through two of the six land borders with Bangladesh, an official said.

In a letter dated August 7, Vikram Doraiswami, additional secretary of MEA, told West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha that 2,399 people want to return to their villages in the state through the Petrapole-Benapole integrated check post and 281 citizens want to enter through the Phulbari-Banglabandha land border.

“Many are living in extreme distress, including sheltering in school verandahs or public parks, and are increasingly desperate to return home,” the letter said, according to The Print. “It is not feasible for them to fly home, they can only hope to return if they are allowed to travel by rail or road.”

Doraiswami stated that most stranded citizens are either unskilled or semi-skilled labourers, who had gone to visit relatives in Bangladesh. The Centre has offered to arrange trains and vehicles for them once the Mamata Banerjee-led state government approves the request.

An official told PTI that the state government is working out the modalities. “The central government must ensure that health screening of the stranded people is carried out before they board the trains,” the official added.