14 'Bangladeshis' stranded in India for three months
Fourteen fishermen, who claim to be Bangladeshi, have been stranded for around three months in Purba Medinipur of West Bengal, India.
They were travelling on a Bangladeshi trawler named Champa Akhter. Caught in bad weather, the engine of the boat shut down on November 7 last year. After floating on the Bay of Bengal for 20 days, it entered Indian territory, the fishermen said.
Fishermen of Shankarpur in Purba Medinipur rescued the “Bangladeshi” fishermen and took them to Digha sea beach on November 27, before taking them to the district administration. The “Bangladeshis” have not been arrested, but are now under the custody of local district and police administration.
The fishermen claim that they are all from Bhandaria thana in Pirojpur district. Since their nationalities have not yet been confirmed, local authorities are unable to free them, reported our correspondent in Kolkata.
One of the fishermen on the Bangladeshi trawler, Zakir Hossain said his team included Romik Miah, Siam Sarder, Mohammad Babul, Mohammad Selim and 9 others. He said he and the others have been living on the assistance of the Indian administration. Although, after facing a shortage of warm clothes many of them have fallen ill.
As per government rules, the responsibility of confirming the nationalities of the stranded fishermen lies with the Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Kolkata. Contacted, BM Jamal Hossain, consul (political) at the Deputy High Commission, said, “We haven't yet been notified about the matter by the authorities concerned in India. Once they inform us, we will confirm their [the fishermen] nationalities and send them back as soon as possible.”
Additional Police Super of Purba Medinipur Indrajit Basu said the authorities concerned have been informed about the matter, but no response has been received as yet.
Shyamsunder Das, secretary of Digha Fishermen and Fish Traders Association said the repair work of the Bangladeshi trawler has been completed. Steps can be taken to send them back in their trawler, whenever it is legally permissible.
Meanwhile, Kazi Muntasir Murshed, assistant deputy high commissioner of Bangladesh in Guwahati, said 14 Bangladeshi citizens held in different jails in Indian state of Assam are being sent back to their country after completion of jail term.
As many as 111 “Bangladeshi” inmates in four prisons -- 51 in Goalpara prison, 34 in Shilchar prison, 23 in Tezpur prison, and three in Kokrajhar prison -- all on charges of infiltration, have completed their jail terms, but have remained there since their nationalities are yet to be verified.
So far, the Deputy High Commission of Bangladesh in Guwahati has confirmed the nationalities of 14 of them on the list, said Murshed.
He added that they are still working on confirming the nationalities of the others, and that if every thing goes well, 13 more Bangladeshi citizens will be able to return to Bangladesh by the end of this month.