NEW DELHI - India has stepped up security along its largely porous eastern border with Bangladesh and is using pepper spray and stun grenades to block Rohingya Muslims, who are fleeing violence in their homeland of Myanmar, Indian officials said Saturday.
Border forces, citing security risks, have been authorized to prevent attempts to enter the country.
"We don't want to cause any serious injury or arrest them, but we won't tolerate Rohingya on Indian soil," said a senior official with India's Border Security Force (BSF) in New Delhi.
R.P.S. Jaswal, a deputy inspector general of the BSF, patrolling a large part of the border in the eastern state of West Bengal, said his troops were told to use both what he called "chili spray" and stun grenades to keep Rohingya out of India.
About 40,000 Rohingya refugees who passed through Bangladesh from Myanmar are already inside India. On Thursday, India Home Minister Rajnath Singh called for their deportation as illegal migrants, saying they had not applied for refugee status.
India's National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued a notice to the government about the plan to deport Rohingyas. The NHRC says it is assisting Rohingyas on humanitarian grounds because they were being persecuted in Myanmar.