Lanka to return 61 Bangladeshis

Sri Lanka is to return 61 Bangladeshis who were picked up by the navy in February.

They were to be flown back on a Mihir Lanka flight today, Bangladeshi Foreign Secretary Mustafa Kamal told the Dhaka Tribune.

The Bangladeshis were detained in a two-day operation that began on February 2, along with 77 Rohingyas from near Oluvial Fishing Harbour in the east coast of Sri Lanka, after the boat carrying them broke down. They were trying to go from Teknaf to Malaysia and other destinations.

The official said, “After they were detained, they were taken to detention camps in Bossa Galle and Mirihana.”

The Bangladesh mission in Colombo found out about them and dispatched two of its officials to verify their identity. “We found out that of those detained, 61 were Bangladeshis,” the foreign secretary said.

Kamal added that one, Yunus Rasel, was killed during the Sri Lankan naval raid and that his body would be flown in at a later date.

All of them, except two, come from Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar. The other two are from Mymensingh and Comilla. “They will be sent to their homes by bus.”

The official said the expatriates’ welfare ministry is bearing the cost of the repatriation and since there are no funds for this purpose, they had a lot of issues.

“We a seeking a separate allocation only for repatriation purposes in the next budget,” he added.