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Smugglers milk Rohingya crisis

January 16, 2018

Rs 25k per person to cross border, with family discount

KOLKATA: In West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district, several Rohingya refugees sit in makeshift tin structures, awaiting basic facilities.

“Mamata government has promised to help,” says a Rohingya Muslim man, who’s been living in India for a while now.

Most of these refugees reached the state after crossing India-Bangladesh border illegally, paying massive sums to escape atrocities bellowed out to the stateless community.

In an effort to expose the large network operating around the India-Bangladesh border that helps Rohingyas cross over into India, Zee News team reached a certain refugee camp in South 24 Parganas district.

The Rohingya refugees explained how cattle smugglers are acting as agents to help cross over to Malda district, in exchange for few thousands of rupees.

The smugglers, who have been active for decades now, have a well-oiled network with agents on both sides of the border. The network even has fixed rates for operations.

Rates fixed for Rohingyas crossing over into India

Male/Female: Rs 20,000 – 25,000

Child below 10 years: Rs.2,000-5,000 (Fare depends on age)

Family of five: Rs 75,000 – 80,000

The smugglers, often give a discount if a family of five want to crossover. Instead of a Rs 1 lakh, the family is charged Rs 75,000 – 80,000.

Most Rohingya refugees have no valid visas or passports.

Cattle smugglers hire labours who accompany Rohingya refugees while crossing the border. These labours charge Rs 10,000 – 12,000 for each individual from smugglers, nearly half of what smugglers charge from Rohingyas.

Escaping “ethnic cleansing” in Myanmar’s northwest state of Rakhine, thousands of Rohingyas have sought shelter in India and Bangladesh.

The influx of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis through the porous Indo-Bangla border has been a major concern for India. The Centre has claimed that Rohingyas have links to terrorist outfits.

Last month, the centre asked five eastern states sharing boundaries with Bangladesh – West Bengal, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura – to be extra vigilant against the influx of refugees.

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