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Bangladeshis held before sneak-back bid

Kalyani, March 19: A group of 28 Bangladeshis was arrested at Kamlapur in Nadia’s Chakdah police station area yesterday for trying to cross over to their country without valid travel documents.

“These people, who were working in Mumbai and Delhi, had been in touch with each other. Some time ago they decided to cross over to Bangladesh and left from Mumbai, where they had gathered. They got off at Burdwan a few days ago. They hired taxis there early this morning to get to the Petrapole border in North 24-Parganas to cross over clandestinely,” said sub-divisional police officer Prasun Mukherjee.

In January, similar groups fleeing to Bangladesh from Mumbai were apprehended at Jhargram and Burdwan.

Mukherjee said one of the drivers of the two Tata Sumos the group of men, women and children had hired became suspicious on hearing their dialect and decided that they were Bangladeshis. “Afraid that they might get a raw deal at the border, the taxi drivers stopped their vehicles at Kamalapur near Chakdah and forced the group to alight with the baggage,” the officer said.

The streets were filled with Holi revellers around 10 am, and soon a crowd gathered as the group argued with the drivers over the fare. Word reached the Chakdah police station and a team arrived to take the group into custody.

Policemen present during interrogation said the 19 men in the group told them that they were fleeing India after being subjected to police harassment both in Delhi and Mumbai. “Most of these men and women worked as household help or labourers. It seems that the tension caused by the police there scared them,” an officer said. There are seven women and five children in the group.

The group said they knew that thousands of illegal immigrants were returning to Bangladesh via Petrapole in Bongaon without any problem and they were “following suit”.

“The arrested persons have been produced before the sub-divisional judicial magistrate here and charges have been filed against them under the Foreigners Act,” Mukherjee said.

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