CROSS BORDER JOY: Homecoming for five children – Siblings finally sent back to Bangladesh – stray no more ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Malon (North Dinajpur), Aug. 9: Five minor children were sent back home in Bangladesh today and they included Krishna and Anima, who had been denied entry into their homeland when their parents were “pushed back” on June 30.
Among the children were three boys, who were caught by the BSF from the border in Sonagaon on June 23. They had strayed into the Indian territory while fishing in a creek.
On Saturday, the state Juvenile Justice Board had “recommended” to the district administration that arrangements should be made to send the children back home as soon as possible.
The BSF went to meet officers of the Bangladesh Rifles with the district magistrate’s order last afternoon to arrange for the return of the three boys. But the deputy inspector-general of the BSF’s Raiganj sector, Jashwant Singh, decided to take up Krishna and Anima’s case as well.
“I told the officers to raise the case of the brother and sister as the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Calcutta confirmed in writing to the Indian external affairs ministry that the two children, Krishna, 14, and Anima, 12, were bona fide Bangladeshi nationals and had agreed to their early repatriation,” said Singh.
The BDR officers were shown the letter from the Deputy High Commission. “They were convinced and agreed to take back all the five and asked us to bring the children to the border at 10am today. I had read The Telegraph report on how the two children had got separated from their parents. Thanks to the newspaper and the initiative of the district administration, all the children are back home now,” said Singh.
The siblings had been caught along with their parents Madan Barman and Malati from the boarder at Samja in North Dinajpur district in 2007. The parents were “pushed back” to Bangladesh on June 30, but the BDR refused entry for the children as their names were not on the list of people to be sent back home.
The BSF officers and police reached the social welfare department’s home, Suryodaya, in Raiganj at 7.30am. All the children took bath and were given a special meal of rice, dal and subji. They were provided with new clothes as well.
“I did not believe Krishna when he told me this morning that we were returning home. I had been feeling sad since yesterday when I came to know that the three boys were going to be released,” Anima said before getting into a van.
Muntu Ali said he did not sleep last night after they were told that they would return to their village. “We were being treated very nicely by the people here. I will come and visit the home when I grow up,” said the 7-year-old boy.
Satabul Islam, 12, said catching fish in the creeks, rivers and ponds was a favourite sport this time of the year. “But we will give it up and never go near the border fence,” he said.
The BSF’s deputy commandant of the 120 Battalion, Dipak Mondal, district intelligence officer Sachindra Nath Ghosh, principal of Suryodaya, Partha Sarathi Ghosh, and Gautam Pal, a representative of Raiganj-based NGO Apurba Drishti, accompanied the children to the border.
The children arrived at the border gate around 10.10am but they had to wait, as the BDR’s major Iftikar had not yet reached the other side. He arrived around 1.15pm and the process of handing over the children began.
Only BSF officers were allowed to accompany the children right up to the point, about 150 meters from the border, where Major Iftikar was waiting.
“We were not allowed to cross the border with the children. We could see the BSF and the BDR officers talking and the children trying to pick out their near and dear ones from among a crowd of about 100 people, who had gathered a little farther away,” said Pal.
No one on this side could see the actual reunion between the children and their parents. The principal said the siblings’ father had been told yesterday that their children could return home today.