Indian authorities on Monday intercepted a boat carrying at least 66 suspected Rohingyas near Tarmugli Island of Andaman and Nicobar, which is located at the juncture of Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea.
Quoting officials, Indian TV channel News 18 reported that the boat carrying suspected Rohingyas allegedly left from Bangladesh over two weeks ago.
On January 13, police of Port Blair -- the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands -- received a call from locals about suspicious boat movement near Tarmugli Island. Search teams were immediately formed to trace the suspicious boat.
The boat was finally located in the evening and 66 on board were detained, it reports.
Police said there were 24 men, 27 women and 15 children among the detained, and they were reportedly moving towards Malaysia from Bangladesh. Further investigation is going on to determine the origin of the detained persons, officials told News 18.
According to the UN Refugee Agency, between 2012 and 2015, an estimated 112,500 Rohingya risked their lives on smuggler’s boats in the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea, with hope of reaching Malaysia.
Those making the sea journey ranged from people fleeing inter-communal violence in Rakhine state in 2012, to those who grew increasingly desperate amid restrictions back home on their freedom of movement and access to services and livelihoods.
Since August 2017, some 750,000 Rohingyas fled brutal military campaign in Rakhine and took shelter in Cox’s Bazar, where they live in refugee camps.
Rohingyas are not volunteering to return to Myanmar, though there were two repatriation attempts since August 2017. They say they don’t have guarantee of safety and citizenship in Rakhine state.
According to refugee and migration experts, risk of human trafficking through the Bay of Bengal to Malaysia has increased as the sea remains calm during winter.