Bengaluru, Aug 1: Amidst all the debate surrounding the NRC and illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, it would be interesting to take a look at the scenario in Karnataka. Scores of construction workers, estate labour among others had come under the scanner several years back on the suspicion that they were Bangladeshi immigrants.
While a majority of them come to Karnataka in search of better opportunities, there is also the crime angle attached to it. There was a lurking suspicion that for the Bengaluru serial blasts, T Nasir, the main accused had used some illegal immigrants. Another incident which worried security officials was when 50 Bangladeshi citizens vanished from the Bengaluru International Airport Premises in 2010.
They included people who would clean the runway and also work in other parts of the airport.
Several investigations have shown that there are touts who facilitate the entry of such persons into Bengaluru. The tout charges anything between Rs 5,000 and Rs 10,000 for the entry of such persons.
While many have taken up jobs such as painting, construction or carpentry, there are a good number who indulge in crimes such as counterfeit currency, robbery and peddling cheap drugs.
The National Investigation Agency has traced several fake currency cases between Bangladesh-Bengal and South India. This is a route that has been used on several occasions and several probes by the NIA detail the modus operandi.
The number: Who got it right?
During the recently held elections, former home minister of Karnataka Ramalinga Reddy had said that the people from northeastern states are being mistaken as Bangladeshis. This was in response to the BJP which has time and again claimed that the Congress helped get Bangladeshi immigrants into the state and included their names in the electoral rolls.
"We have special squads to check on illegal immigration. We found only 40-50 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants all over Karnataka and they have been deported," Reddy went on to claim.
On November 22 2016, Dr. G Parameshwar, who was then the Home Minister (Currently Deputy CM) had said that there were 283 Bangladeshi migrants from the state.In reply to a question raised by Sunil Kumar V (BJP), he said there were 748 Bangaladeshi's in the state out of which 283 are illegally here as per Foreigners Act, 1946. To detect illegal migrants, special task force had been constituted at district and city levels, and local police asked to maintain a vigil and find out about such migrants in their respective jurisdictional area, he said.
A total of 283 illegal Bangladeshi migrants are in the state, they include 16 in Mandya, one in Dakshina Kannada, three in KGF, 11 in Ramanagara, 13 in Mysuru district, one in Chikkamagaluru, 14 in Bengaluru district, 25 in Mysuru urban, 197 in Bengaluru urban and two in Shivamogga. Rejecting these numbers, Kumar said it looks like government was trying to protect illegal migrants, he further added.
Back in 2015, H D Kumaraswamy (now CM) had claimed that there are 40,000 illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Karnataka. In a letter that he wrote in the month of April that year, he had told the then Home Minister, K J George that several illegal Bangladeshi immigrants had taken cup residence in almost all parts of the state.
"In Bengaluru, the immigrants are residing in camps at Bellandur (behind the lake), Iblur, Devarabeesanahalli, Somasundarapalya, Mullekolalu and other areas. The sad part is, despite being aware of their presence, the Bengaluru police have failed to act. He also added that most of these immigrants had voter ids, ration cards and were enjoying the benefits doled out by the government.
They indulge in a range of illegal activities such as narcotics, fake currency. He further said that 8 per cent of them were women and many indulged in prostitution rackets. He also added that 8 per cent of the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in India were from Karnataka.
The scenario in 2008:
Back in 2008, the late Dr. V S Acharya, who was then the home minister had appealed to the union government to introduce a national personal identification registrar for identifying foreigners who are staying in the state after the expiry of their visas. At that time too it was said that 8 per cent of the approximate 2 crore illegal immigrants were in Karnataka.
The Intelligence Bureau had flagged this issue and said that the route to Karnataka and Mangalore begins in West Bengal, north-eastern states, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. These immigrants, who are extremely vulnerable, are used to gather intelligence and tip off operatives about the movement of security agencies, the IB had said.
Acharya had said then that the problem has to be addressed before it gets out of hand. He said that most illegal immigrants are found in the coastal belt. Most of these persons have stayed back despite the expiry of their visa period.