Jayanti Biswas, 55, and her son Prantush Biswas, 26, were caught by police while returning home after visiting her daughter Ratna Biswas in the district’s Juri upazila on February 22 last year.
On April 10, Moulvibazar Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court sentenced Jayanti and Prantush to a month of imprisonment with a Tk1,000 fine, with an additional 10-day imprisonment in case of payment default.
But even though their sentence ended a month later, they are still in jail mainly due to the lack of efforts on the Indian authorities’ part to take them back, claimed their family members.
Their story came to light at the inaugural ceremony of Bangladesh-India Friendship and Business conference held on December 29.
Addressing the event, Moulvibazar municipality Mayor Fazlur Rahman brought up their plight to drawing the attention of senior judicial and government officials of both the countries to the matter.
The attendees included Bangladesh Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and Education, Industries & Commerce and Law Minister Tapan Chakraborty in the Indian state of Tripura, among others.
In his speech as the chief guest, the chief justice said Bangladesh does not want to keep any Indian citizen prisoner without reason and is willing to help them return home.
Sources close to Jayanti and Prantush’s family said the duo are residents of Khagraura village at Karimganj district in Assam, India.
Jayanti’s daughter Ratna settled in Juri upazila of Moulvibazar, which is close to the Indian border, after marrying a Bangladeshi citizen named Kirendra Biswas.
Ratna fell severely ill early last year. Learning of her daughter’s suffering, Jayanti did not want to wait to get a passport and visa to travel to Bangladesh and opted to cross over with the help of smugglers – local agents who help Bangladeshis and Indians travel across the border without valid documents.
The mother-son travelled to Bangladesh visited Ratna without any hassle. However, trouble began when they prepared to return to India.
Jayanti and Prantush decided to go home with the help of a different smuggler, which irked their original smuggler.
Seeking revenge, original smuggler notified local police of the duo’s trespassing into Bangladeshi territory.
Police arrested them near Alinagar border area in Kulaura, Moulvibzar as they were about to cross over to India.
Their family members said legal complications on the Bangladeshi side have all been resolved, but Jayanti and Prantush are stranded in Bangladesh because of the negligence of the Indian authorities.
They said they contacted the border authorities, the Indian High Commission in Bangladesh and other offices concerned for help, but none of them has taken any measure to send the necessary paperwork for Jayanti and Prantush’s release and safe return home.
Sources said there were four more Indian citizens currently in Moulvibazar jail: Sanjid Kumar Tripura, 34, and Ritong Tripura Ritum, 32, from Khoai in West Bengal, Nayan Deb Barman, 33, from Agartala in Tripura and Nilu Singh, 44, from Thoubal in Manipur.
Moulvibazar Press Club General Secretary SM Umed Ali said they had contacted relatives of the prisoners to help them on humanitarian grounds.
“We urge both the governments to look into this matter and take appropriate steps to resolve this situation,” he said.