Smugglers from the neighboring country using children to continue business in Tripura amid Lockdown?

Children from Bangladesh play near the border; Image credit: Mrinal Banik

Agartala, April 27, 2020:

People living in the bordering areas of Kailashar sub-division under Tripura’s Unakoti district are said to be spending sleepless nights in apprehension amid reports of children from Bangladesh being used to transfer drugs to the Indian side amid the lockdown.

According to locals, despite lockdown and strict restrictions along the expansive border, a section of smugglers from the neighboring country continue to run their operations. These allegations have assumed extra significance as 6,462 cases of the COVID-19 have already been reported in Bangladesh, and locals are said to be living in a constant fear of an outbreak.

Due to these apprehensions, the situation has turned volatile in several areas — such as Tilabazar, Safarkandi, Latiapura, Rangamati, Devipur, Marguil, Heeracherra, Iraani, Manuvailey, Murticherra — located under Kailasahar Municipal Council.

Reacting to these reports, Shib Shankar Adhikari, the Vice-Chairman of the Kailashar Panchayat Samiti alleged that in the lockdown period, people involved in smuggling are using children to transfer their consignments.

“We have every reason to believe that every single day, the borders are being violated by a section of illicit traders. Unabated trans-border crimes in these areas have given rise to apprehensions. The smugglers are now assigning children to ship their consignments across the fencing”, alleged Adhikari.

Raising concerns over the skyrocketing number of COVID cases in the adjoining areas of Bangladesh, he said that in Srimanatpur village under Moulobibazar district of Bangladesh alone, two people have been found positive. This village is only a few kilometres away from the border.

Reacting to the issue, District Magistrate of Unakoti, Rabindra Reang said, “There are several free patches in Unakoti district where there is no border fencing. People are trying to enter India via these routes. I have personally talked with the BSF authorities to strengthen border vigil.”

Reacting on the recently reported case in which a woman entered Kailashar from Bangladesh, he replied she may have crossed over

It may be mentioned here that a few days back, a Bangladesh woman crossed over to Tripura where she was arrested and kept at the Kailashar jail after conducting all necessary tests. Similarly, a few children have been handed over to the childlines after being identified as Bangladeshi. As many as six Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested since the lockdown was announced.