Panic spread across several villages near the Indo-Bangla border in Assam’s Karimganj district on Sunday after a Bangladeshi national claiming to be a Covid-19 patient swam across a river and entered India seeking treatment, the Border Security Force (BSF) said.
The man in his mid-30s identified as Abdul Haque, a resident of Sunamganj district of Bangladesh, was later handed over by BSF authorities to Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB).
“The Bangaldeshi national swam across the Kushiyara river located on the border between the two countries and entered India around 7:30 am on Sunday. When villagers on the Indian side saw him, they stopped him there and informed us,” said Deputy Inspector General JC Nayak, BSF spokesperson based at Silchar, 53 km east of Karimganj.
The incident happened at a place called Mubarakpur nearly four km away from Karimganj town on an unfenced portion of the boundary between two countries.
“The person had fever, didn’t look too well and was speaking incoherently. He was claiming that he was suffering from Covid-19 and crossed the river to seek treatment in India,” Nayak said.
The BSF authorities informed BGB personnel from across the border about it. The Bangaldeshi authorities came to the Indian side in two boats and took the man back around 9 am.
“We have no idea whether he was Covid19 positive or not, but it was clear that he was unwell. Villagers on the Indian side were afraid to approach him because of coronavirus scare. Only tests will reveal his exact status,” said Nayak.
Though Kushiyara river gets flooded several times during the monsoon, the water level at present is pretty low and a person who knows swimming will be able to cross it without much difficulty, said Nayak.
“In view of Covid-19, we have intensified patrolling in the border areas to ensure no one enters India from Bangladesh. But the area where this incident happened is unfenced till now. We had carried out awareness programs in villages and that is the reason why they informed us immediately,” he added.