Is infiltration by Bangladeshis into our country a political problem? We witness constant somersaults on the issue. In 90s Hiteswar Saikia, the then Chief Minister of Assam declared on the floor of the House that there were 3 million Bangladeshis in Assam. Immediately pressure was mounted on him from leaders in Delhi. Within one week he made a complete u-turn, this time claiming that there was not a single Bangladeshi in his State.
Lest we forget, the Election Commission of Bangladesh had declared around this time that a couple of million voters were ‘missing’ from their country.
No country tolerates such illegal migration. Through the “Secure Fence Act of 2006” the USA has by law started fencing its borders with Mexico. By 2010 it has completed 1200 kms of border fencing almost covering all hospitable terrains.
Sometime back the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina rather curtly told British Secretary of International Development Affairs Andrew Mitchell in London, that ‘countries including Britain, which are concerned over the Rohingya issue, should hold talks with Myanmar instead of putting pressure on Bangladesh’.
It is significant, in this context, to note that, Lafikul Islam, the ‘publicity secretary’ of the All Bodoland Muslim Student’s Union (ABMSU), had warned the state government on July 7, 2012, that, if the ‘culprits’ of the violence of July 6, 2012, were not arrested within 24 hours the ABMSU would declare jehad and take up arms.
It is another matter that the Saudis, the Malaysians and even the Bangladeshis themselves don’t recognise this principle when it comes to their own lands.
- Firstly, under the Assam Accord of 1986 the Government of India was to revise the National Register of Citizens adjusting it with the census data of 1971. That year has been agreed upon as the cut-off year for identifying infiltrators. Those who entered India illegally after 1971 will be treated as infiltrators and sent back. Since this Accord of 1986 succeeded the IMDT Act it should have prevailed over the Act in detecting and deporting them.
- Another important measure to take is to seal our borders. India and Bangladesh share 4096 km long border. A feeble attempt has been made after a lot of pressure to build fencing along the border. Less than 1/4th of the border fencing only could be completed till date. Even that fencing is found very fragile and easy to break at a lot of places.
It costs Rs three crores per km to effectively police this border, i.e., on account of manning of border by policing force, construction and maintenance of border roads, border fencing, riverine patrols, watchtowers and so on. Over three scores of battalions of Border Security Force are presently policing the border which is woefully inadequate. For effective domination and policing requirement is well over 100 battalions. The government has been able to fence only 987 km of this border till now. Rs. 2300 crores are being spent every year in guarding this border. (WB-2217 Kms, Assam-262 Kms, Meghalaya-443 Kms, Tripura-856 Kms, Mizoram-318 Kms).
- Last but not the least, we need to silence the apologists and supporters of these illegal migrants among the politicians, intellectuals and the clergymen. The tragedy is that the Government, in stead, wants to silence the patriotic voices by shutting down Twitter accounts etc.