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India's border security arrested 31 Rohingya refugees who were trying to flee a crackdown in India ignited by the far-right Hindu government.
India’s Border Security Force (BSF) Tuesday arrested 31 Rohingya Muslim refugees stranded on the border after they were denied entry into Bangladesh and border officials failed to agree on what to do with members of the community fleeing a crackdown in India.
India’s far-right Hindu government regards the Rohingya as illegal aliens and a security risk and has ordered that tens of thousands of them who live in scattered settlements and slums around the country be identified and repatriated.
The stranded Rohingyas had been stuck in no man's land on Bangladesh’s border with India since Friday. Two rounds of talks between border officials failed to find a solution.
“We have arrested them under the Foreigners Act on charges of entering India without valid travel documents,” said Ajay Kumar Das, a police official in the northeast state of Tripura that borders Bangladesh.
Hundreds of thousands of members of Myanmar’s Rohingya community have left their homes in Myanmar’s Rakhine State over the decades, most fleeing military crackdowns and genocide at the hands of majority Buddhists.
Many have sought shelter in Bangladesh - where nearly one million live - but others have ended up in India, Southeast Asia and beyond.
The 31 had been living in Indian Occupied Kashmir and some of them carried identity cards issued by the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR.
The UNHCR has issued about 16,500 Rohingya in India with identity cards that it says can help “prevent harassment, arbitrary arrests, detention, and deportation.” India does not recognize the cards.
India’s deportation of seven Rohingya men to Myanmar in October raised fears in the community of a wider crackdown and prompted hundreds of Rohingya families to leave India for Bangladesh.
Indian police arrested another group of 30 Rohingya Monday in the northeastern state of Assam, where they had moved after living for six years in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Members of the group said they were looking for work after losing their jobs in Indian Occupied Kashmir, police said.
“The arrests were made during a routine check by police and after interrogation, we found they are all from Myanmar,” said Imon Saikia, a police official in the city of Karimganj where the group was arrested.