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The Congress and the BJP Tuesday demanded permanent rehabilitation and security for displaced Bangladeshi tribals who last week fled to Tripura after ethnic strife broke out with non-tribal Muslims in Chittagong Hill tracts (CHT).

Over 200 Congress members led by state party president Diba Chandra Hrangkhawl and working president Ashish Saha met the head of the Bangladesh mission in Agartala, Obaidur Rahman, and submitted a memorandum demanding proper rehabilitation and security to tribals in that country.

A delegation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by state party president Sudhindra Dasgupta, also met Rahman here and put up a similar demand.

Over 1,800 men, women and children of Chakma and Tripuri tribes took shelter in the India-Bangladesh border village of Karbook Saturday after fleeing from five villages in Khagrachari district under CHT in southeast Bangladesh.

The tribals returned to their villages Sunday after three Bangladeshi MPs and officials of Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and the local administration assured them full security.

“We have submitted a memorandum to the head of the Bangladesh mission here addressed to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina demanding security and rehabilitation to the minority tribals in CHT,” Hrangkhawl told reporters.

He said: “The Congress wants equal treatment for Bangladeshi citizens, especially the minorities.”

“Minorities in Bangladesh are being attacked by the majority Muslims. The government must take stern action against the perpetrators and provide security to non-Muslim minorities,” Dasgupta told reporters.

Border Security Force (BSF) Deputy Inspector General Bhaskar Rawat said: “The tribals entered Indian territory Saturday evening after ethnic troubles in Bangladesh. They were stopped at the border by the BSF at the barbed wire fence. We provided them food and other assistance.”

The tribals, mostly Buddhists and Hindus, fled the CHT after clashes over the reported abduction of a local leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition in Bangladesh, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

“At least one tribal villager was killed and four others were seriously injured. About 500 tribal houses were burnt to ashes,” Suhas Chakma, director of Delhi-based rights group Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), said in a press release.

Additional troopers of the BSF have been deployed along the India-Bangladesh border to deal with the situation and to prevent refugee influx into Indian territory.

In 1986, over 74,000 tribals – mostly Buddhist Chakmas – took shelter in southern Tripura following violent attacks on thousands of tribals by non-tribals. They returned to their homes in Bangladesh 1997-98 after the Bangladesh government signed a peace agreement with Shanti Bahini, an outlawed outfit had been demanding sovereign status for tribals in CHT.

Tripura shares a 856-km border with Bangladesh, which is porous because it extends over mountains that are densely forested. Over 85 percent of the border has been fenced.

(Source: IANS)


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