Thirty-one Rohingya Muslims have been detained in India after a standoff at the country’s border with Bangladesh when both sides refused to accept the group, police said on Tuesday.
As many as 1,300 Rohingya have entered Bangladesh from India in recent weeks in an exodus sparked by recent deportations to neighboring Myanmar, where the stateless group have been subject to violence and persecution that the U.N. has called ethnic cleansing.
The latest group, which included 17 children, were stuck in limbo for three days after crossing barbed wire fences on the Indian side of the border, before Bangladeshi border guards handed them over to Indian authorities.
The group were then detained in northeastern Tripura state and charged with “entering the country illegally,” according to an Indian police spokesman. “They are in police custody and will be presented to a local court tomorrow for further orders,” he said. New Delhi had been notified that the Rohingya were in Indian custody and the U.N. refugee agency would also be alerted, the spokesman added.
Some 40,000 Rohingya live in India but in recent weeks New Delhi has arrested members of the persecuted minority and turned them over to Myanmar, prompting sharp criticism from the U.N. and rights groups.
Bangladesh already hosts around a million Rohingya refugees in giant camps in the country’s southeast—three-quarters of whom fled a brutal Myanmar military crackdown in August 2017 bringing testimony of murder, rape and arson. Efforts to repatriate them have stalled over fears of continuing human rights abuses.
U.N. investigators have said senior Myanmar military officials who participated in the crackdown should be prosecuted for genocide, but the country insists it was defending itself against militants.
Rohingya have for decades faced systematic discrimination and violence in Myanmar, which refuses to recognize them as citizens and falsely labels them as “Bengali” illegal immigrants.