INTRODUCTION: Officials from India and Bangladesh have been meeting to try to work out a way of stemming the flow of refugees crossing the border into India's West Bengal state.
SV Indian flag at border post
GVs Troops carrying flag to border (2 shots)
GV Flag being carried
SVs Troops checking papers (2 shots)
SVs Papers checked (3 shots)
GVs Troops detaining Bangladeshis
SVs Bangladeshis being questioned (4 shots)
GV Bangladesh border sign
GVs Troops returning illegal immigrants
GV Troops patrolling bridge
GV & SV Smuggled goods being examined (2 shots)
GV PAN Smugglers being arrested (2 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Officials from India and Bangladesh have been meeting to try to work out a way of stemming the flow of refugees crossing the border into India's West Bengal state. The problems has affected relations between the two countries, with India maintaining that Bangladesh has encouraged the refugees to leave and authorities in Dacca saying that Indian estimates of the number of people crossing the border are 'grossly exaggerated'.
SYNOPSIS: Last week (1 October), members of India's border patrol in West Bengal set off to hold what was described as a 'flag meeting' with their counterparts from Bangladesh. A Foreign Office spokesman in Dacca said the meeting was being held to 'sort out the difficulties' of the exodus from Bangladesh. India said the flow of refugees had reached 'alarming proportions'.
Most of the refugees are members of Buddhist and Hindu tribes who say they are suffering harassment in Bangladesh, which is a Moslem state. Border patrols check the papers of Bangladeshis crossing into West Bengal, but they say many slip across without being detected. The Indian government says there is evidence that Bangladesh is trying to force the refugees out.
A spokesman for the Indian External Affairs Ministry in Delhi said there had been reports from reliable sources that 'atrocities committed on tribals have the support of some sections of Bangladesh authorities'. According to India, more than 200 men, women and children were massacred last year in one incident. It has been alleged that the tribes are kept under strict military supervision while land is handed over to outsiders for colonisation. For its part, Bangladesh has alleged that the Indians have been responsible for border incidents to 'create disorder and confusion' and induce tribal people to flee to India.
Illegal immigrants who are caught are returned to the border. The Dacca government has assured India that 'if any Bangladesh national has crossed over to India and if it is established that he is a Bangladeshi national, we shall take him back.' But the Indians say they have another problem -- smugglers bringing goods across the border into West Bengal. The number of bush trails between the two countries makes it difficult to control smuggling.
The border patrols succeed in catching some smugglers, just as they manage to detain some refugees. But the illegal flow of goods -- and people -- from Bangladesh to India continues.