31 Rohingya Handed To Tripura Police Ending Standoff With Bangladesh


The 31 detained Rohingya include six men, nine women and 16 children (Representational)

New Delhi: 

The Border Security Force Tuesday handed over the 31 Rohingya Muslims, who were stranded on the India-Bangladesh border for three days, to the Tripura police, ending a standoff with its counterpart, the BGB, on the issue, officials said.

They said the border guarding force signed papers and handed over the 31 Rohingyas to the staff of the Amtoli police station in West Tripura district police at 11 am.

The decision was taken after the Border Security Force headquarters here obtained an approval from the Home Ministry, they said.

The Rohingya Muslims were stuck in no-man’s land, beyond the barbed wire fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Tripura since Friday last. The situation had led to a blame game between the BSF and its counterpart — Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) — with the two sides accusing each other of pushing them into their territories.

The BSF had been providing “comfortable” temporary accommodation at Rayermura, where they were detained, about 15 km from Agartala, in West Tripura district, officials had said earlier.

The 31 detained Rohingya include six men, nine women and 16 children. They were stuck at ”Zero Line”, beyond the border fence.

The barbed wire fence along the Indo-Bangladesh border is 300 feet inside the Indian territory.





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KISS To Run Centres In Other States And Bangladesh


Kolkata: 

The Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) that provides free education from kindergarten to post-graduation to 50,000 tribal students in Odisha, on Sunday said it would run similar centres in other states and Bangladesh. A KISS centre for poor children is expected to start functioning at Kolkata from next year, it’s founder Achyuta Samanta said here Sunday.

The KISS has entered into an agreement with a Kolkata based NGO to run the centre for 1000 poor children in the metropolis from the academic session of 2020, he said. Bhumi Pujan has already taken place at Joka area and construction going on at a faster pace.

Declared a Deemed to be University by the Union Human Resource Development ministry in August last year, the KISS would start a centre near Ranchi in Jharkhand from 2020. Jharkhand cabinet has already approved 28 acre of land for the KISS campus, Mr Samanta, a Rajya Sabha member from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) said.

The KISS that runs a centre for 600 street children in Delhi also has plans to open such centres in Bihar and Chhattisgarh, he said. To a question, Mr Samanta said he has met Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar twice and is waiting for his government to provide land for the KISS centre.

The institute also has plans to start two KISS centres in Bangladesh. One will come up for girls of class 1 to 10 in Jassore and another for boys at Dhaka, he added. The Jassore centre will be set up in partnership with an NGO and the Dhaka centre with a private university of Bangladesh, he said adding both the centres are expected to start from 2020.

Founded in Bhubaneswar in 1992-93 to wean away tribals from naxal influence in Odisha, the KISS has 27,000 students and 23,000 of its alumni stay in its facilities.

“The KISS provides poor tribal students free food,lodging and education from KG to PG. We also provide them jobs after completion of education,” Mr Samanta said.

Asked about sourcing of funds to run such a mammoth institution, he said a portion of it comes from the turnover of the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), another institute set up by Mr Samanta, and contribution from employees, sale of products made by KISS students of vocational courses and donation.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)





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India, Bangladesh Border Forces Probe How 31 Rohingya Got Stuck In Border


While the BGB asserted that the Rohingyas came from India, the BSF denied the claim. (Representational)

Agartala: 

Thirty one Rohingya Muslims are stuck in no-man’s land, holed up behind the barbed wire fencing along the Bangladesh border in Tripura since Friday, while a blame-game is on between the border guards of the two countries over their refuge.

The Border Security Force (BSF) officials said six men, nine women and 16 children were detained by the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) and are behind the fencing at Rayermura in West Tripura district, about 15 km from Agartala.

While the BGB asserted that the Rohingyas came from India, the BSF denied the claim. Both the sides have met twice since Saturday but failed to make any headway to resolve the issue.

“They are stranded between the international border and the barbed wire fencing for last 48 hours. They tried to enter Indian territory from Bangladesh side and we stopped them,” BSF Deputy Inspector General CL Belwa told PTI Sunday.

The barbed wire fencing has been erected 300 feet into the Indian side from the international border.

“We are supplying water and other basic needs from our own resources to the Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds since last night,” the DIG said.

Despite the BGB stressing that the Rohingyas were from India, the BSF said there was no tell-tale sign of breach of fence on the Indian side.

The BSF has also offered the BGB to join a survey on the Indian side to identify any sign of breach in fencing.

Around 8.30 pm on Friday, BGB Commanding Officer Lt Col Gomal Kabir had called up BSF Commandant Ratnesh Kumar to inform him that they had detained 31 Rohingyas at the border.

“BGB commanding officer insisted that the BSF take those Rohingyas inside the Indo-Bangladesh border fencing. Commanding Officer BGB also alleged that BSF have been pushing Rohingyas into Bangladesh territory,” General Belwa told reporters.

“We were expecting that BGB will contact us for a flag meeting. But they did not contact us, rather we contacted them and yesterday 12 o”clock, an officer level meeting was conducted at zero line,” General Belwa said.

He said the BSF offered BGB officials to come and survey the Indian side to see if there is any breach of the barbed wire fence.

However, the BGB authorities declined the offer and stuck to their demand that the BSF must take the Rohingyas into the Indian territory. A Battalion Commander level meeting was held at the Zero Line at 11 am on Sunday.

“The BGB battalion commander was of the same view that Rohingyas came from Indian side. We have denied their allegations and said there is no tell-tale sign of breach of fence on Indian side,” BSF DIG Belwa said.

He added that the Rohingyas might have come from the other side (Bangladesh).

Twelve and 62 Rohingyas were detained in Tripura in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

In October 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had ordered all state governments to identify and monitor Rohingya refugees.

It said the centre viewed infiltration of Rohingyas from Rakhine state of Myanmar into Indian territory as a burden on the country”s resources and it aggravated security challenges to the country.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims, described by the UN as the most persecuted minority in the world, fled their homes in 2017 to escape an alleged crackdown by Myanmar’s military.

Many of them reached India via Bangladesh.





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Terrorist Who Supplied Weapons For 2016 Bangladesh Cafe Attack Arrested


Eighteen foreigners were among those killed in the 10-hour standoff at the Holey Artisan Bakery.

Dhaka: 

Bangladesh has arrested a suspected terrorist who supplied weapons and explosives for a 2016 siege that killed 22 hostages, a top police official said Sunday.

Eighteen foreigners were among those shot and hacked to death in the 10-hour standoff at the Holey Artisan Bakery, an upmarket cafe in Dhaka, before military commandos stormed the building and freed some two dozen other people.

Mamunur Rashid was a key “decision-maker” in Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), a banned homegrown terrorist outfit blamed for the attack.

The 30-year-old was arrested while travelling on a bus outside the capital Dhaka, said Mufti Mahmud Khan, a spokesman for the elite Rapid Action Battalion.

Rashid “supplied money, arms, ammunition and explosives for the attack,” Khan told reporters.

“He hid in a neighbouring country and tried to reorganise the group. They were also planning to rescue their accomplices from custody.”

A former computer operator and Islamic seminary student, Rashid also provided logistical support to terrorists involved in several deadly attacks on religious minorities in the country’s north, Khan said.

A court in Dhaka last month put eight terrorists on trial over the cafe attack.

Khan said Rashid was one of the two men charged in absentia, while the other six were already in custody.

The Holey Artisan Bakery siege fuelled fears over violent terrorist groups in the Muslim-majority nation of 165 million people.

The government also launched a nationwide crackdown against terrorists immediately after the attack, killing nearly 100 alleged terrorists in gunfights including several top JMB leaders.

The attack marked a violent escalation from a spate of high-profile murders in the country since 2013, with terrorists targeting Bangladeshi atheist writers, rights activists, gays, foreigners and religious minorities.

Bangladesh last week banned the release of a film based on the cafe attack, saying it would tarnish the country’s image.





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David Warner Set To Return Home From Bangladesh Premier League After Suffering Elbow Injury


David Warner suffered a setback as he was assessed with an elbow injury while playing in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL), Cricket Australia said on Thursday. Warner, who is about to end his ban for the infamous ball-tampering in March, sustained the injury while scoring a quickfire 61 for Sylhet Sixers on Wednesday. The 32-year-old will return home to have the injured elbow assessed. However, the extent of the injury is not yet known. Warner will return to Australia next Monday, after two more matches in the Bangladesh Twenty20 competition.

“While the extent of the injury remains unknown, Warner will continue to play for the Sylhet Sixers before he departs, meaning he will feature in matches on the 18th and 19th,” Cricket Australia’s official news site reported.

The injury just days after former captain Steve Smith returned to Australia to have elbow surgery following an injury he sustained while playing in the same Bangladesh tournament.

Smith is expected to be in a brace for six weeks before undergoing extensive rehabilitation.

The disgraced pair still has three months of their suspensions left to run over the incident last March that rocked the game.

The injuries could prove a major blow to the national side, with the star batsmen facing the prospect of less match-time in the lead up to their expected return to the national side ahead of the World Cup in late May.

Fox News reported that Warner injured the elbow during his creative unbeaten 61 off 36 balls for Sylhet against the Rangpur Riders.

The left-hander switched to a right-handed stance while facing a spell from Chris Gayle, smashing the Windies superstar back over his head for six.

(With AFP inputs)



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Bangladesh Government Rejects Report Claiming “Irregularities” In Polls


The poll that gave PM Sheikh Hasina a third straight term was marred by allegations of vote rigging.

Dhaka: 

Anti-corruption group Transparency International said on Tuesday it found “irregularities” in 47 of 50 constituencies it surveyed during last month’s general election in Bangladesh, which was marred by allegations of vote rigging.

The poll that gave Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina a third straight term was undermined by ballot stuffing, voter intimidation and the occupation of polling booths among other malpractices, the group’s Bangladesh chapter said.

The government rejected the report, saying the group had “lost its neutrality” and should be investigated for any “secret link” to the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

In its report, Transparency International said the BNP-led opposition could not effectively campaign for votes, opposition workers were threatened by government agencies, and the Election Commission could not ensure a level-playing field for all parties.

The ruling Awami League-led coalition won 46 of the 50 constituency races surveyed by the organisation.

There are 300 elected seats in parliament, and another 50 members are nominated.

“The Election Commission did not perform its role properly,” Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International’s Bangladesh chapter, told reporters in Dhaka.

“We recommend an investigation by a judicial enquiry committee, because such an election is not positive for democracy,” he added.

An Election Commission spokesman said it would examine the group’s report.

H.T. Imam, a political adviser to Hasina and co-chairman of Awami League’s election conducting committee, said the anti-corruption group was “a puppet of the BNP”.

“Now it’s time to investigate the group to bring to light whether it has any secret link with the BNP,” Imam told Reuters.

At least 19 people, including workers of the Awami League, were killed in political violence on election day, according to police.

Opposition leaders have so far boycotted parliament after rejecting the vote result.

All eight opposition MPs, including six from the BNP whose chairwoman is in jail on what the party calls trumped-up corruption charges, have yet to be sworn in.

The United Nations this month called for an independent and impartial investigation into the December 30 election, while Western governments, including the United States and the European Union, have condemned the election-day violence and called for a probe into a range of irregularities.

 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Will Strain India’s Ties With Bangladesh


Tarun Gogoi said Sheikh Hasina has done a lot to make Bangladesh more secular in its outlook.

Guwahati: 

The manner in which the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 is being portrayed by BJP leaders at the state and central levels will only end up straining relations between India and Bangladesh, former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has claimed. Claims of “religious persecution” in Bangladesh only serve to undermine Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to uphold secularism in the neighbouring country, he added.

“This bill will strain relations between the two countries. This present Bangladesh regime has been helpful, and there is peace in the Northeast because of Hasina’s decision to act against terrorist camps across the border. Hindus are safe in her country, the number of Durga Pujas is increasing every year, and here you are unnecessarily giving Bangladesh a bad name over religious persecution,” Mr Gogoi told NDTV.

The bill, which aims to provide fast-track citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was passed in the Lok Sabha recently. 

Mr Gogoi said that in his 15 years spent government Assam, not a single person from neighbouring Bangladesh had come seeking citizenship due to religious persecution. “I had a long telephonic discussion with the Bangladesh chief minister to discuss the matter,” he said, adding that the BJP’s campaign of religious persecution in Bangladesh is portraying the Sheikh Hasina government in a “wrong light”.

If enacted, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 will enable Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from the neighbouring states to get citizenship after six years of residing in India even if they do not possess any documents. The current waiting period is 12 years.





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Steve Smith Leaves Bangladesh Premier League With Elbow Injury


“Smith has suffered an elbow injury. We are not sure how he picked it up, but the last two days he could not bat in training due to the problem,” Victorians head coach Mohammad Salahuddin told AFP.

“He had an MRI test here but the result was not very clear. He sent the report to Australian physicians who advised him to return home immediately,” he said.

Smith, who was leading Comilla in the tournament, scored just 13 runs in his two matches, including a duck in the last match, in which his team was dismissed for a lowly 63 runs.

Salahuddin said he expected Smith to return to the league once he had recovered from the injury. He was scheduled to leave Dhaka at 10pm local time (16:00pm GMT).

Comilla signed Smith initially as a back-up to Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik but later added him to the squad following clearance from the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB).

The BCB had initially blocked his participation after other franchises raised objections as Smith was not included in the initial players’ draft list for the tournament.

Smith is currently serving a one-year ban from international cricket and Australia’s domestic Sheffield Shield and Big Bash leagues over a ball-tampering scandal last year.

His former deputy David Warner, who is serving a similar ban for his role in the scandal, is also playing in the BPL, captaining the Sylhet Sixers franchise.

South African big hitter AB de Villiers, West Indies’ Chris Gayle and England’s Alex Hales are among the other international stars set to play in Bangladesh’s lucrative Twenty20 league.

The BPL was dogged by match-fixing scandals and delayed pay for some foreign players after it started in 2011.

After a one-year suspension in 2015 it has since been staged without serious controversy.

(With AFP inputs)



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Rohingya Hindu Refugees In Bangladesh Want To Return To Myanmar: Report


The Rohingya, originally from Rakhine state, are fleeing persecution in Myanmar. (AFP)

Los Angeles: 

Rohingya Hindus, who sought refuge in Bangladesh, want to return to Myanmar but are not being allowed by Bangladesh officials, American daily Los Angeles Times reported.

In a report from the Kutupalong Refugee Camp in Bangladesh, the newspaper said on Wednesday that 105 Hindu families were ready to leave when a deal was made by the UN last May, for refugees to return home to Rakhine state in Myanmar. Instead, they are stranded in Bangladesh because UN decided it was not safe for them to go back to Myanmar, Hindu refugees were quoted as telling the newspaper.

The 400 Hindu refugees in Bangladesh are segregated and housed in a separate facility called Hindu Camp, which is under round-the-clock security.

The Los Angeles Times said that Hindu families have also appealed to the Indian government for help, but have so far received only humanitarian aid.

Unlike the more than 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees, the Hindus have Myanmar citizenship, the newspaper said.

The report said that the Bangladesh’s Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commission has ruled out repatriating only the Hindus, and not the Muslims, whose return the UN has determined was unsafe. “We treat all refugees the same way and will not be prioritising repatriation of the Hindu refugees over Rohingya Muslims,” Shamimul Huq Pavel, the commission official who oversees a separate camp for Hindu, told the Los Angeles Times.

The exodus of the Rohingya to Bangladesh began in August 2017 when the ARSA attacked security posts in Myanmar and the security forces and vigilantes retaliated by killing hundreds of Muslims and destroying their villages.

The UN has condemned the security forces’ response to the ARSA attacks as disproportionate and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called it “ethnic cleansing”.

However, the Hindus were attacked by ARSA unlike the Muslim refugees who were victims of security forces and vigilantes, the report said.

Amnesty International, that verified the the ARSA attacks, said in a report last May that 99 Hindu children, women and men had been killed.





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Bangladesh Foreign Minister Says, Country To Develop Effective Ties With India And China


PM Sheikh Hasina has told the foreign minister to intensify cooperation.

Dhaka: 

Bangladesh would cultivate more effective ties with India and China, pursuing a vigorous economic diplomacy, newly appointed foreign minister Abdul Kalam Abdul Momen said today.

Seventy-one year old Momen also said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina directed him to intensify cooperation with neighbours on the basis of “solid partnership” and ensure that the foreign office acts as a partner of other ministries to draw more foreign investments in the country.

“My main focus will be to pursue a vigorous economic diplomacy with all major countries and particularly the neighbours,” Mr Momen told PTI in an interview a day after assuming the office, indicating that the new government wanted to reap the benefit of the friendships with both India and China.

An economist by background, Mr Momen said his office would effectively do its part to elevate the country”s status as a higher middle income by 2021 as envisaged by the premier and draw the required foreign assistance in implementing the government”s ambitious development plans.

Mr Momen said intense relations with neighbours like India and China would remain as a major policy while he would try to cultivate more effective ties with all major foreign nations like the US, the UK and France keeping Bangladesh”s integrity intact.

“In no time in the recent history, our relations with India was so good. We will maintain it and rather take it to another level,” he said.

Simultaneously, Bangladesh would try to reap benefits of its ties with China as it offered a huge amount as credit for the country’s development, Mr Momen said.

Bangladesh’s ties with India last year grew steadily, with high-level visits from both sides. Prime Minister Hasina visited India in May last during which she held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The last few years have been a “golden chapter” in India-Bangladesh relationship when complicated issues of land and coastal boundaries were resolved, PM Modi said at the time.

During 2018, the two countries launched many development cooperation projects, including the construction of the Akhaura-Agartala rail line and the restoration of Kulaura-Shahbazpur section of railway line.

Asked about major challenges, Mr Momen referred to the Rohingya crisis and preferred to call it “an economic issue” but feared it could affect the regional stability unless addressed through a conserted effort involving nations in the neighbourhood.

“The issue needs to be solved as soon as possible, otherwise it would affect stability of the entire region,” he said.

More than 700,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed into Bangladesh from Rakhine since August 2017 when Myanmar launched a brutal military crackdown, dubbed by UN as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” and “genocide” by international rights watchdogs, sparking a global uproar.

Mr Momen is a new face in the ruling Awami League. He previously served as Bangladesh’s politically appointed permanent envoy to the UN with concurrent accreditation to South American republics of Chile and Peru. He started his career as a civil servant in early 1970s to later became an economics professor in the US.

Having a doctorate degree in economics and MBA in business from Boston’s Northeastern University and MPA in public administration, public policy and international economics from the Harvard University, Momen was elected from the northeastern Sylhet constituency.

His elder brother, AMA Muhith, was elected to parliament from the same constituency during the last parliament election and served as Bangladesh’s longest serving finance minister in Ms Hasina’s cabinet.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)





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