Bangladesh intensifies patrol over Rohingya influx rumour

Muktadir Rashid | Published: 00:25, Apr 11,2020 | Updated: 20:10, Apr 11,2020


The Border Guard Bangladesh intensified patrolling amid speculation of a fresh influx of Rohingyas from bordering Myanmar on Thursday night, officials said on Friday.

Local people at Palakhali union of Teknaf said that they heard that Rohingyas with Covid-19 were gathering along the border and started announcing through public announcement of the local mosques along the border at about midnight alerting so that none could enter Bangladesh territory.

‘We heard Rohingyas were gathering along the border. When we came out, we heard an announcement from the mosque.

But, we saw nothing in the dead night,’ said Sultan Ahmed, a member of Palangkhali Union Parishad.

Another resident Mohib Ullah said that they heard that a number of Rohingyas tried to cross the border but could not finally made it due to patrolling of border guards.

Cox’s Bazar 34 border guard battalion commanding officer Ali Haidar Azad Ahmed told New Age, ‘We heard the speculation at the night and rushed to the border and patrolled with our speed boat. But we did not find anything in particular as the border people were saying they had just heard too.’

‘We have, however, intensified our patrolling to prevent any fresh influx,’ he added.

Agence France-Presse adds: Cases against scores of Rohingya Muslims detained after fleeing Myanmar’s restive Rakhine state have been dropped, as fears grow of a potential coronavirus outbreak in the country’s overcrowded prisons.

A military crackdown in 2017 forced some 750,000 Rohingyas to escape to Bangladesh, where they languish in sprawling refugee cities.

Those who remain in Rakhine live under tight restrictions with little access to healthcare and education, unable to move freely in conditions Amnesty International has branded ‘apartheid’.

For years many have taken to boats and buses to escape.

But in recent months hundreds have been caught and detained in prisons — charged with breaching immigration laws, offences which carry up to two years in jail.

On Wednesday a court suddenly dropped cases against two of the largest groups of arrested Rohingya, totalling 128 people.

‘Charges against both adults and children are withdrawn and they are to be released,’ judge Khin Myat Myat Htun told Pathein court in Ayeyarwady region.

An AFP reporter confirmed four buses carrying the Rohingyas and bound for Yangon left Pathein prison early Thursday morning.

Scores more are set to be released by other courts and sent back to Rakhine, a Rohingya activist said.

‘In total about 250 Rohingyas are likely to be sent back on Saturday,’ he said, asking not to be named for security reasons.

It is unclear where the Rohingyas will be taken in Rakhine and authorities have not yet given the reason for their sudden liberation.

Next week is Myanmar’s New Year, however, when the president often grants amnesties to prisoners.

With coronavirus fears gripping the country, calls have amplified for low-risk inmates to be released from what Human Rights Watch describes as Myanmar’s ‘horribly overcrowded and unsanitary’ jails.

The World Health Organisation has warned prison populations are particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.

The Rohingyas garner little sympathy within Myanmar, where many people buy the official line they are illegal immigrants, even though many trace their roots in the country back generations.

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