Data from the Indian security force has revealed that till 5 October this year over 280 persons were handed over to Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), reports The Hindu.
However, Indian authorities insist that only those who are not involved in the smuggling of narcotics, fake currency, and other prohibited articles, have been allowed to return back to Bangladesh.
Data from the South Bengal Frontier of the BSF reveals that in 2022, till 5 October, the frontier had handed over 287 persons to BGB, including 146 males, 102 females, 38 children, and one transgender person.
BSF authorities, however, insist that only those who are not involved in the smuggling of narcotics, cough syrup, fake currency, gold and other prohibited articles, are handed over to the BGB on humanitarian grounds.
Many such persons cross the border are looking for work, returning home after working in India. Some of them try to sneak in to meet relatives or to avail treatment, and in some cases, it's children who have run away from their homes.
A recent report on Prison Statistics of India-2021 shows that of the 5,565 foreign inmates lodged in the country's correctional homes, West Bengal (WB) alone accounts for 1,746 (31% of all prisoners) hailing from foreign countries.
WB has reported the highest number of foreign convicts lodged in its jails (30.5% or 329 persons) and the highest number of foreign undertrials lodged in its jails (28.4% or 1,179 persons).
The report also points out that among the foreign inmates, Bangladeshi nationals comprise the majority – 40.5% – of all foreign inmates. A majority of the foreign nationals were arrested for crossing the border illegally, added Indian English daily The Hindu in a recent report.
This frontier of the BSF guards a stretch of 913.324km along the Bangladesh-India border, from Sunderbans in the south to Malda in the north, and is the most porous stretch of India's borders in the entire eastern theatre.
Over 360km is riverine, where rivers serve as boundaries between the two countries.
In 2021, the BSF's South Bengal Frontier arrested 2,036 Bangladeshi nationals and 860 Indian nationals for illegally crossing the border. Contrary to public perception, more arrests are made while Bangladeshi nationals are crossing back to Bangladesh from India rather than while crossing from Bangladesh to India.
According to officials of WBl's correctional homes, other than convicts and undertrials, many Bangladeshi nationals are still languishing in prisons after completing their term.
This is because the deportation of such prisoners, often referred to as " jaan khalash" (having completed the term) in the prison records is a lengthy process involving both countries.
The prison occupancy rate in West Bengal according to Prison Statistics of India-2021 stands at 120.
Occupancy rate is defined as the number of inmates staying in jails with the authorised capacity for 100 inmates.