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Bengal’s ticking time bomb, an azadi moment and why this state is a concern

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New Delhi, May 17: It was on expected lines that there was a major furore when it was decided to undertake an NRC in Assam. While there was a clear division among the political class, agency officials however say that the exercise should be conducted in every state to rid India of the problems that the illegal immigrants are causing.

Data suggests that dates back to 2001 suggested that there were 12 million such persons living in 17 states. While Assam accounted for 50 lakh such persons, in the case of West Bengal the number stood at 57 lakh.

Bengal’s ticking time bomb, an azadi moment and why this state is a concern

The data prepared in 2006 suggested that the number went up to 20 million. Over the years, the problem spread to other states as well. In 2012, it was stated that the problem had spread to states such as Kerala, Telangana (then AP) and Karnataka.

To understand this further, we need to revisit what former Pakistan prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had said in his book. He had said, "it would be wrong to think that Kashmir is the only dispute that divides India and Pakistan, though undoubtedly the most significant. One at least is nearly as important as the Kashmir dispute, that of Assam and some districts of India adjacent to East Pakistan. To these Pakistan has very good claims."

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Former Governor of Assam, S K Sinha had said that secular parties and the minorities do not see any danger from illegal migration. They believe that most of the so called illegal migrants are Bengali speaking Indian Muslims and this issue has been unnecessarily blown out of proportion. They fear that in the garb of deporting foreigners, Indian Muslims will be harassed.

Former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing, Amar Bhushan says that this is a dangerous issue. He says that in the early 1990s, the Research and Analysis Wing carried out a daredevil operation in Bangladesh against the activities of the Jamaat-e-Islami.

The intention behind the operation was a larger one and India was clearly worried about the rise of illegal immigration which the Jamaat was carrying out at the behest of the ISI. The agenda was a larger one and after losing out on Bangladesh, the ISI wanted to infiltrate as many Muslims as possible in a bid to either merge a portion of India with Bangladesh or divide the nation. We were in fact alarmed with the spurt in illegal immigration, he also says.

The illegal immigration that takes place assumes worrying propositions. An intelligence file clearly suggests that illegal immigrations from Bangladesh are part of a devious agenda to set up a Greater East Pakistan/Bangladesh.

Amidst this there was another report of how some locals in West Bengal with the help of illegal migrants from Bangladeshis had planned on declaring azadi in Murshidabad.

The Intelligence had picked up information that a group of highly radicalised people were making attempts to take on the establishment. These persons who were in touch with their handlers in Bangladesh were gradually building a momentum in the area and had decided to declare freedom from India. The Intelligence says that the plan was hatched several years back and it was decided that these elements wanted to declare freedom and fight to merge with Bangladesh.

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Secret meetings were held in madrasas and other areas to plan the movement. It was decided to either merge Murshidabad with Bangladesh or remain independent. The plotters had even managed to rope in several like-minded locals into their fold.

The funds too were being raised through various mechanisms that included fake currency peddling and also donations. Bangladesh trained terrorists were preparing for a launch into this region and carry out a series of spectacular attacks. However, there were some tough measures that finally foiled the movement, a highly placed source said.

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