A boat carrying at least 66 suspected Rohingyas were intercepted by Indian authorities on Monday near Tarmugli Island of the UT of Andaman and Nicobar, which is located at the juncture of the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea. Quoting officials, it was reported that the boat carrying suspected Rohingyas allegedly left from neighbouring Bangladesh over two weeks ago.
The police at Port Blair received a call from locals about suspicious boat movement near Tarmugli Island. Following which search teams were immediately dispatched to trace the suspicious boat. On Monday evening, police were able to locate and seize the boat and all 66 on board were detained. According to police, among the detained were 27 women, 24 men and 15 children, and they were reportedly moving towards Malaysia from Bangladesh. The authorities are further investigating the matter to determine the origin of the detained persons.
The United Nations Refugee Agency estimated that around one lakh Rohingya risked their lives on smuggler’s boats in the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea, with the hope of reaching Malaysia between 2012 and 2015. Malaysia is a wealthy, Muslim majority country and has expressed sympathy over the persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar.
Rohingyas are an ethnic minority in Myanmar residing in the Rakhine state of the country. While most of the Rohingyas are Muslims, very few are also Hindus. The Buddhist majority nation of Myanmar claims that Rohingyas are residents of Bangladesh and that some have formed insurgent groups like Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. However, the Rohingyas claim they are citizens of Myanmar and have faced brutal repression from Myanmar's military, and have been denied citizenship. Suu Kyi has denied the genocide of Rohingyas and called it "lies".
(With inputs from agencies)