Agartala: India is in touch with Bangladesh over the influx of more than 350 tribals into Tripura after ethnic strife broke out in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) of that neighbouring country, an official said in Agartala on Thursday.
Over 350 tribals, including women and children of 70 families of Chakma and Tripuri tribes, have taken refuge in four villages of Tripura's Gandachara area along the international border since Monday. (Agencies)
According to the Tripura government officials, the tribals, mostly Buddhists and Hindus, fled their villages in Bangladesh after some ‘miscreants’ allegedly attacked their homes in five villages in Khagrachari district of CHT, a tribal dominated area in Bangladesh that borders India and Myanmar.
"The Indian government has informed this to the Bangladesh government to take back the tribal refugees at the earliest," an official of Tripura's home department said.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said, "Our officials are in touch with the Bangladesh government officials over the issue."
He said that Tripura Chief Secretary Sanjay Kumar Panda and Dhalai District Magistrate Milind Ramteke separately talked to Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Pankaj Saran to take up the matter with the Bangladesh government.
Dhalai District Magistrate Ramteke and Gandachara Sub-Divisional Magistrate Bhaskar Dasgupta visited the border areas, persuading the infiltrators to return to Bangladesh.
Dasgupta said that officials of the Border Security Force (BSF) and Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) held a meeting on the issue on Wednesday.
"The BGB officials have sought list of names and details about the infiltrators to take further action," Dasgupta said.
BGB officials told their BSF counterparts that tribals were not attacked.
"Only a market was burnt recently and after that the fear-stricken tribals left their villages and took shelter in Tripura."
The Tripura home department official said, "The UPDF (United People's Democratic Front) activists supported by the local anti-peace groups are always hostile and have occasionally attacked the houses of Chakma and Tripuri tribals."
The UPDF has been opposing a peace accord signed in 1997 between the Bangladesh government headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samity (PCJSS) led by Santu Larma.
The PCJSS's armed wing, Shanti Bahini, is demanding sovereign status for tribals in Chittagong Hill Tract and had waged a guerrilla warfare against the Bangladesh government for two decades until 1997.
In 1986, over 74,000 tribals took shelter in Tripura following violent attacks. The refugees returned to their homes after the peace accord was signed.
In a similar incident of attacks in August last year, over 1,500 tribals took shelter in the border village of Karbook after fleeing from five villages in the same Khagrachari district over the reported abduction of a leader of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.
Tripura shares an 856-km border with Bangladesh that is porous because it extends over mountains that are densely forested.
Over 350 tribals, including women and children of 70 families of Chakma and Tripuri tribes, have taken refuge in four villages of Tripura's Gandachara area along the international border since Monday.