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Calamitous situation in Bengal: 3 crore illegal Bangladeshis reside there

By Vicky Nanjappa
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    New Delhi, Aug 4: The Assam NRC has been a subject matter of debate and the opposition led by West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee has questioned the rationale behind the move.

    People check their names on the final draft of the states National Register of Citizens after it was released, at a NRC Seva Kendra

    This was a process that was started several years back, but the issue kept lingering on for long. The consequence of not acting soon on the issue has led to a huge problem called illegal immigration. Now, the problem is that when you keep lingering like this, this is where you come to says Amar Bhushan, former special secretary of the Research and Analysis Wing who also recently authored the book," "The Zero Cost Mission/The Wily Agent.

    Interestingly, Bhushan's book narrates a dare-devil operation undertaken by the R&AW in Bangladesh in 1992-93 to immobilise targets of the Jamaat-e-Islami. The operation largely dealt with stopping the Jamaat from undertaking a major operation in which involved infiltrating Bangladeshis into India with a motive of creating a Greater East Pakistan.

    Bhushan took time off to discuss with OneIndia the issue relating to the NRC, the possible outcome and repercussions. However, the former R&AW officer makes it clear that the noise being raised by the opposition has nothing to do with human rights. They are worried that this exercise would result in all these people declared illegal citizens losing their voting rights.

    West Bengal has the bigger problem:

    While Assam undertook this exercise, what one must note is that the bigger problem is in West Bengal. We had an estimate that there were 3 crore illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Bengal of which 1.2 crore moved to other parts of the country. The situation in Bengal is more calamitous, when compared to the rest of the states, Bhushan says.

    Post the 1971 war, I feel we ought to have been more strict. Had we been more strict back then, we would not have reached this stage. The Bengal problem was immense and it had first been exploited by the CPI(M) and now the Trinamool Congress.

    It is clear that all these people have come in from Bangladesh. The thing now is that Bangladesh would never take these people back and this has been their old strategy.

    The issue is a serious one and everyone in the media and also the politicians are glossing over it. First we need to identify who is legal and who is not. Give citizenship to the genuine person. What is to be done with these people is something that would come up in the second stage says Bhushan. The issue has to be dealt with and one cannot make up the excuse as to what is to be done with them.

    Also Read | The Zero-Cost Mission/ Wily Agent: R&AW's dare-devil operation Bangladesh operation that saved India

    Voting rights is the real issue:

    The opposition has been crying foul and citing humanitarian issues. This is an issue for everyone including those who lose out on their benefits thanks to illegal immigrants.

    Every Indian citizen is entitled for government benefits. If you are not a citizen, why should you benefit, asks Bhushan.

    We are not on that part here and what we must speak about is what is legitimate and what is not. In this regard I would commend the BJP's courage on the issue and had it not been for them the NRC would have never happened. The NRC is about deciding what is legitimate and what is not.

    What I anticipate is that these people who have been declared illegal citizens will continue staying here, They would however lose all benefits including their voting rights. The problem for the opposition is not that these persons would not get a job, ration, education etc. The real problem for them is that these persons would lose their voting rights, the former R&AW officer also points out.

    Also Read | How illegal immigration into Bengal has yet again fuelled demands for a Greater East Pakistan

    260 percent increase:

    From time to time attempts had been made by various parties to enumerate the illegal Bangladeshis. Several meetings have been held in the past to discuss this issue, but every time it was put saying, ' now is not the time.' There were a number of reports in the Home Ministry which have been buried right from the beginning. Every one kept glossing over the issue, Bhushan also says.

    What the BJP has done is that they have expedited the process and I am sure by December the final list would be ready. The best thing is that it is happening under the supervision of the Supreme Court. My question is why not have such an exercise in every state. If this is done, think of the subsidy and ration that the government would save.

    Another thing, Bhushan points out is that between 1971 and 1996 there had been a 266 per cent increase in the number of infiltrations from Bangladesh. The information I have suggests that post 2014, it has come down a lot.

    What next:

    The next course of action which would follow would be undertaken in a phased manner. Once the final list is released, the action would begin. I do not think there would be any criminal action against these persons.

    They would continue to work and live here, but minus the voting rights. There would be a tough bargain with these people depending on which government is there. I doubt that these people would be sent to jail or deported. As I said, they would continue to live here, without any benefits, which also includes voting rights.

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