On Thursday, Tripura Police arrested 18 Rohingya refugees from Teliamura in Khowai district, who reportedly escaped from camps in Bangladesh and were heading to New Delhi. Among them are five refugees who hold UNHCR refugee cards.
The police had raided a Guwahati-bound bus and arrested the refugees, which included 11 men, three women and four children.
During initial interrogation, Tripura Police has found that these refugees fled from a Rohingya refugee camp in Chittagong in Bangladesh and in all likelihood, illegally crossed into India from the Sonamura border in Tripura's Sipahijala district.
This is not the first time Rohingya refugees have been arrested in Tripura.
On January 14, six Rohingya refugees were arrested from Dharmanagar railway station in North Tripura district. Eight others were arrested from Khayerpur market area in West Tripura district on November 29 last year. Instances across the North East have also gone up since the 2017 crackdown against Rohingya in Myanmar's Rakhine state by the Myanmar Army. Lakhs of Rohingya have been sheltered in Refugee camps in Bangladesh.
The Home Ministry had earlier alerted all state governments in the North East about the North Eastern frontier being used by the Rohingya refugees to illegally enter India.
According to sources, a joint team comprising police and the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officers arrested the Rohingya refugees from near the Indo-Myanmar border. The entire operation was being led by the district Superintendent of Police S Ibomcha Singh.
Baguna in the Rakhine state of Myanmar is one of the conflict-hit areas where Myanmar's security forces have been engaged in a fierce fight and are allegedly driving out Rohingya Muslims.
In their interrogation, the refugees have revealed startling facts. According to CID sources, the three arrested Rohingya men were contacted by agents offering them jobs in Malaysia and were brought to Bangladesh. They stayed there for three days. The agents also paid 22 lakh in kyat (Myanmarese currency) to their families.
They crossed over the Bangladesh border from Sonamura, an infamous human trafficking corridor in Tripura and stayed in Agartala for a day. They reached Imphal via Guwahati and Dimapur.
From Imphal the three men were asked to travel to Lilong, a Pangal - Manipuri ethnic Muslims - dominated area in Thoubal district. They there for five days before being further taken to the border town of Moreh, where they stayed for three more days, sources said.
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