Infiltration of Rohingyas through Tripura, a major security threat to the country

By Jayanta Bhattacharya

Unabated infiltration of Rohingya refugees through the porous border with Bangladesh and carrying drugs by them has become a major issue of concern for the Government of Tripura.

“The Rohingyas take advantage of the highly porous border and sneak into the state and then go to the other parts of the country for jobs. They go to the major metropolitan cities by using Tripura as a corridor. But what has become the issue of major concern is that they carry drugs from Myanmar and sell in the cities with the help of negotiators”, a highly placed police official said.

He said, the condition of the fencing is so deplorable due to lack of maintenance even vehicles from the neighboring country can easily enter into India without any obstruction.

Chief Minister Manik Saha, who is also the home minister of the state, had chaired a meeting with the state’s police brass early this month in which the issue of illegal infiltration of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis was discussed.

“We had a detailed discussion on the illegal infiltration of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis into Tripura,” he told reporters after the meeting at Prajna Bhavan here.

Saha said he had recently visited Unakoti district to see how floods had caused extensive damage to the barbed-wire international fencing with Bangladesh.

“The river has changed its direction there causing extensive damage to the fencing. Now, infiltrators are using the damaged portion to cross the border. Police will enhance coordination with the BSF to prevent intrusion attempts,” he said.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had recently said Tripura is being used as a corridor by the Rohingya infiltrators from Bangladesh to either go to Delhi or Kashmir with the help of brokers.

Reiterating that the crackdown on drug menace will continue, the chief minister said police have already begun using drones to map ganja plantations for destruction.

“We discussed the issue and police are seriously tackling the drug menace. The kingpins of the drug cartels will soon be arrested,” he said.

Some 10 lakh Rohingyas were sheltered by the Bangladesh government following Myanmar’s military began to perpetrate mass atrocities against the Rohingya population in the country’s Rakhine state. The military called its operation a clearance campaign in the aftermath of an alleged attack by a Rohingya armed group.

 The refugee camps in Bangladesh, now home to nearly 11 lakh Rohingyas.

The official said, a substantial portion of border fencing is old and worn-out across the state and taking advantage of this highly porous border infiltration is taking place.

 He said, unless barbed wire fencing were properly mended and in some places fencing is constructed on the zero point of the border in consultation with the Bangladesh government, this menace cannot be checked.

India constructed border fencing 100 yards away from the international border leaving a large tract of agricultural and homestead land outside the fencing to adhere to the Border Management agreement signed in 1975.

India has a 4096 km border with Bangladesh and Tripura which is girded by the neighbouring countries in three sides, has 856 km long border, which constitute 85% of its total border.

“People living across the fence are a matter of concern.  A lot of people are living across the fence within the Indian Territory, which is posing a threat to internal security. A total of 5,863 people of 1126 families are living in the patch of land in between the barbed wire fencing and the international border”, the official said.

He said, inputs received from reliable sources indicate that many people living in those vulnerable pockets frequently visit nearby Bangladesh markets, shops and mosques and developed a good link in Bangladesh.

The official said, since 2021 at least 233 Rohingya refugees and 581 Bangladeshi nationals were arrested in Tripura and it is easily understood that in reality innumerable foreign nationals have used Tripura as a corridor for reaching out to other parts of the country.

Over 11 lakh Rohingyas are sheltered in 34 camps at Ukhia-Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar are becoming reckless by engaging in various crimes.

He said, “Off late the Bangladesh government tried to shift about one lakh Rohingyas from Teknaf camps to Bhasanchar in Noakhali district, but most of the Rohingyas are not willing to leave Cox’s Bazar . So far in six phases, over 18500 Rohyngyas were shifted to Bhasan Char.  Many have also fled from there”.

“It has been learnt that the camp centric terrorists are involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping and extortions. The camps have also become one of the country’s drug transit points as Yaba shipments from Myanmar come directly to the Rohingya camps. Yaba worth hundreds of crores of rupees is spreading in different parts of the country. Hundreds of Rohingyas are working as Yaba carriers in different parts of the country”, he said.

“Four militant groups are currently active in the Rohingya camps in Cox’s bazaar. Of the 34 Rohingya camps, ARSA militants, mostly recruited from Rohingya camps, have sole control over 27 camps. They mostly raise funds from the Rohingyas living in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates”, the official said.

He said the Rohingyas have a distinct way of entering into Indian Territory and a well organized caucus of agents helps them to go to the Indian cities from refugee camps.

With the help of brokers or the agents, commonly known as ‘Pasinda’ they first stay in different Muslim houses in the border villages in the Bangladesh side where barbed wire fencing is yet to be constructed or fencing was damaged.

Then they are pushed to the houses of those Indian people living in between the international border and the barbed wire fencing and given a mobile phone with an Indian sim card and then Indian brokers take the responsibility and they guide the refugees up to Indian rail stations or the Agartala airport.

When they reach the destination in metro cities, another group of agents receive them and engage them in different jobs.