14 June, 2021

Estranged Pilgrims

The fuzzy border on the east again crackles with acrimony, but it all ends quietly. Or does it? More Coverage

Anupam Nath
Estranged Pilgrims
Unwitting pawns in the wrangle between India and Bangladesh over illegal migrants, 213 Bangladeshis forcibly pushed across the border by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) finally found their way back home on February 6, Thursday. This, after seven traumatic days in no-man's-land with inadequate food and no shelter, a week that also saw a build-up of troops along this north Bengal border and an accompanying escalation in temperatures.

Border Security Force (BSF) commanders claimed India's steadfastness on its decision not to shelter migrants from across the border had paid off. The stranded Bangladeshis—40-odd families of snake-charmers—were quietly taken back by the BDR. It was a sudden, though welcome anti-climax to the latest border tangle.

Bangladeshi officials were all along adamant that the men, women and children were "Bengali-speaking Indians". This despite the families producing documentary proof to contrary. But BSF officials at the Satgachi border outpost in Cooch Behar said hints of an impending relaxation of posturing by Bangladesh came on Wednesday night...

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