She was then assessed as mentally unstable and sent to a shelter home.
Kolkata: After spending almost 21 months at an Indian shelter home, a 38-year-old Bangladeshi woman was today repatriated to her home country, courtesy a unique collaborative effort of police, civil society and judicial system.
Solma Begum, who was found wandering by the West Bengal police in April 2015 in Sarati Village, Arambag district. She was then assessed as mentally unstable and sent to a shelter home, the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said.
“After receiving counselling, Begum began to recover and was able to recall her family. The head counsellor of the Shelter Home managed to contact her family and procure all the requisite documents. Bangladesh Legal Aid Services Trust (BLAST) then contacted the CHRI.
“After following up with the Bangladesh Deputy High Commission in Kolkata and various visits to the West Bengal Home Department, her nationality was verified and a repatriation order was issued in December 2016,” said CHRI in a statement.
It took the human rights group over one year of advocacy with the state home department and the Bangladesh deputy high commission to bring her case to this juncture.
Ms Begum was repatriated on Sunday through ICP Petrapole at the Indo-Bangla border at around 11 am, said Aditi Datta, senior programme officer, Police Reforms Programme (Bangladesh & India), CHRI. Tired of struggling to preserve the hope of seeing her children one day, Solma said, “Coming here is easy, going back, difficult.”
Although the information from shelter homes is not easily available, as per CHRI’s analysis of statistics, there were 6,185 foreign prisoners in India as on December 31, 2015. Of these, Bengal’s prisons house more than half of foreign prisoners. Ninety-eight per cent of these are Bangladesh nationals.
“NCRB data does not take account of the numbers of foreigners whose prison terms are over but remain in prison for want of assistance and means to return to their own countries. They continue to remain illegally incarcerated well past the official date of their release,” the CHRI statement added.