The human rights organisation also said these Bangladeshi nationals were not criminal as they are merely pawn in this pandemic
West Bengal-based human rights organisation Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) has demanded immediate withdrawal of criminal cases against 26 Bangladeshi citizens, who were left stranded in India following the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a letter addressed to the Home Secretary of the Government of India (North Block) in New Delhi, MASUM Secretary Kirity Roy said these 26 Bangladeshi nationals, who all came to India with valid travel documents including passport and a tourist visa for three months, fell into an unfortunate situation after the Indian government enforced a sudden overnight lockdown and stringent guidelines to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This situation caught the 26 Bangladeshi citizens off-guard, given the obvious situation of the country, and were forced them to stay back in this country. They could not manage to arrange transport, as all transport facilities were seized, to reach the Changrabandha Immigration Port in Coochbehar, from where they were about to cross the international border. Therefore they could not return back to Bangladesh in due time as was their intention,” read the letter dated on May 18.
The MASUM secretary also said, however, these Bangladeshi persons were accused and charged under S-14 of the Foreigner’s Act, 1946, and arrested by the Chapor police station (Case number 174/2020) in Dhubri district of Assam on this ground. They are currently being kept in Dhubri district jail after the court labelled them as accused.
Mentioning that it was a baseless and a grave violation of human rights to criminally accuse them, the human rights organisation also said that these Bangladeshi nationals are merely victims of this pandemic.
“Therefore, these charges must be withdrawn immediately and proper arrangements must be made for their repatriation. Until then, it is the responsibility of the state to provide them with proper health facilities, shelter, and food keeping in mind the issued guidelines of social-distancing and their security,” the letter added.
The organisation also provided the list of the 26 Bangladeshi nationals now being held unjustly in Dhubri district jail.