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Tuesday, 6 November, 2001, 17:35 GMT
Bangladeshi Hindus held at border
Protesters in India
Bangladeshi Hindus receive support in Calcutta, India
By the BBC's Moazzem Hossain in Dhaka

Bangladeshi border guards have detained 124 people belonging to the country's minority Hindu community while they were trying to cross the border into India.

This is the first such incident in Bangladesh following reports in the Indian press that Bangladeshi Hindu's were taking refuge in the neighbouring Indian state of West Bengal to escape repression at home.

Police officials from the southern border district of Satkhira said the detained included many women and children - none had any valid travel documents.

Local journalists say these Hindu families were apparently fleeing their villages following reports of torture on Hindu communities in different parts of the country.

However the detained Hindu families told police officials they were travelling to India to meet relatives.

'Failing minorities'

Many Bangladeshi Hindu families have relations in India and crossing the border to India by bribing border guards has been a commonplace practice among them.

Khaleda Zia
New Prime Minister Zia has promised protection for the minorities

However, this is the first time that such a large number of people have been detained in a single incident for attempting to cross the border illegally.

Civil rights groups in Bangladesh are accusing the new government here of failing to protect the minority Hindus.

They say Hindus are being targeted for having voted against the ruling four-party coalition in last month's general election.

The government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia acknowledges that there have been several attacks on Hindus but accuses the Bangladeshi press of exaggerating the number of such incidents.

See also:

19 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Fears of Bangladeshi Hindus
03 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh parliament boycott
30 Sep 01 | South Asia
Deaths mar Bangladesh election
02 Oct 01 | South Asia
Analysis: A tale of two women
28 Sep 01 | South Asia
Campaigning ends in Bangladesh
23 Sep 01 | South Asia
Bangladesh rally bombed
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