Friday, February 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Border tension eases as migrants return
Yashwant Sinha invites B’desh Foreign Minister

An Indian family talks to a Bangladeshi family
An Indian family (L) talks to a Bangladeshi family at Jamaldho village on the India-Bangladesh border on Thursday. A group of snake charmers stranded on the India-Bangladesh border vanished into the fog on Thursday, defusing a potentially explosive row between the two countries over their nationalities. — Reuters

New Delhi, February 6
External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha talked on telephone with his Bangladesh counterpart Mohammad Morshed Khan last night and invited him to visit India even as the border tension eased with Dhaka today taking back the 213 stranded illegal immigrants, even as Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said though the immediate crisis was over, the problem remained.

Mr Sinha “had invited the Bangladesh Foreign Minister to India in August last. He renewed his invitation,” an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said.

The telephonic conversation followed Bangladesh High Commissioner Tufail Karim Haider’s call on Mr Sinha last evening.

The dates for Mr Khan’s visit would be worked out through diplomatic channels, the spokesman said.

On reports that border guards Bangladesh Rifles had been denying that they had taken back the illegal immigrants, he said “All 213 Bangladeshis, who were on the zero line, returned to Bangladesh early this morning (from West Bengal). Not a single person has re-entered India”.

The Bangladesh envoy had earlier maintained that “BDR says that we haven’t taken them back. These are nomadic people, they will go wherever they please.

“At the moment, a problem has been solved.... We have asked for a report on the ground situation from Bangladesh,” Mr Haider said. To a question on how the nationality of the immigrants had been established, the spokesman said “every country has a procedure to define nationality. If problems arise, there are modalities to sort them out”.

Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani today asserted that the problem of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants still remained even though the immediate crisis over the issue 213 illegal immigrants blew over following Dhaka’s decision to take them back.

He said the government was taking some steps to implement certain decisions.

Mr Advani said in Kolkata yesterday that Bangladeshi infiltrators had ‘’no right’’ to reside here permanently.

‘’Today in India, a large number of Bangladeshis are coming. In no country of the world such illegal immigration takes place,’’ he told newspersons during a 50-minute stopover of his special flight for refuelling here on way to New Delhi from Singapore.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh today announced in Dhaka that its Foreign Minister Morshed Khan would be visiting New Delhi shortly in response to the invitation extended by External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury told reporters today.

Border Security Force Inspector-General K.C. Sharma said today the Bangladesh Rifles took back 213 immigrants, mostly snake charmers, between 2 a.m. and 2.30 a.m. in small batches, following which tension eased considerably. But when asked where the immigrants have gone, Mr Chowdhury said he was yet to get any information from BDR regarding them. PTI, UNIBack

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