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Iran Press TV

Bangladesh beefs up border security amid Rohingya concerns

Iran Press TV

Sun Oct 15, 2017 01:59PM

Bangladesh has stepped up security along its western border with India amid concerns that hundreds of Rohingya Muslim refugees could be pushed into its territory.

Lieutenant Colonel Tariqul Hakim, an area commander of the Border Guard Bangladesh, said on Sunday that the Rohingya could be seen gathering opposite the Putkhali frontier post, where only a narrow river divides the two countries.

"We have stepped up surveillance and patrols so that no Rohingya can be pushed into our territory," Hakim said.

He said Rohingya communities inside India could be attempting to reunite with their families in southeastern Bangladesh, where over half a million Rohingya refugees had arrived since late August from Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Abdul Hossain, a Bangladesh border guard official, said villages along the frontier were on high alert. "We've been patrolling the border day and night to prevent their entry. Local villagers have also joined us in the patrols."

Newly-arrived refugees said they had been encouraged by Indian guards to cross the border.

Nazrul Islam, Bangladesh's local council member said over a dozen Rohingya who crossed at a southwestern part of the frontier on Friday reported Indian guards opening a section of barbed wire to allow them to pass easily.

Patrols have also been stepped up along the frontier with India's West Bengal state, where Indian border guards say they have been ordered in recent weeks to steer the Rohingya into Bangladesh.

An Indian border guard in West Bengal said patrols had previously turned over all the Rohingya intercepted at the frontier to local police. "But now our directions are very clear, and that is to push all Rohingya into Bangladesh," he said, adding, "We are trying to accomplish our task with active local support."

There are 40,000 Rohingya in India but the Indian government wants them deported.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled from Myanmar, with many taking refuge in Bangladesh, and some then crossing a porous border into Hindu-majority India.

Many have also headed to Southeast Asia, often on rickety boats run by people-smuggling gangs.

An estimated 536,000 refugees have fled from the Muslim-majority northern part of Rakhine state to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched a crackdown. Bangladesh already hosts at least 800,000 Rohingya, including those who fled earlier crackdowns in Myanmar.

The unprecedented influx of refugees has put immense pressure on Bangladeshi authorities and charities. They have described the crisis as one of the world's most pressing humanitarian emergencies.

Myanmar has long faced international criticism for its treatment of Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship and live in conditions rights groups have compared to those of the Blacks under the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

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