The issue of illegal migrants have also been a matter of concern for the citizens of India, now with the increasing population of illegal migrants in every state poses a major threat to the nation and hence, ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it is on the cards of the secular political parties to make an attempt to legalise the Bangladeshi migrants residing in India in order to allure the vote bank of the poor and immigrants.
Author Dr. Swapna Patker stated, “The government should take strict action against illegal immigrants. For vote bank politics, we cannot afford to neglect internal security and we must secure our own boundaries. We do not need to bother about the human rights of the illegal immigrants, but protect our human rights first and take care of our own natives. If BJP takes stringent action against illegal immigrants, few intellectuals might come up with claiming it as an act of promoting Hindutva by the government. It is a major concern that how such people manage to acquire illegal/ fake documents like Aadhaar card, PAN card etc.”
However, on Monday, Assam released a draft list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) leaving out over 40 lakh people who stand to lose their citizenship. It is said that the update has been taken place for the first time since 1951, to account for illegal migration from the neighbouring country Bangladesh. Political experts see the recount as a move to target the Assam’s Muslims on the pretext of rooting out Bangladeshi migrants. The final list of the NRC, which is being updated in Assam, will be published by December 31, this year.
On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee claimed it as an attack on Bengalis. “They are targeting neither Hindus nor Muslims, but Bengalis. This is a wrong decision and will affect everyone across the country—all castes, creed, and community.” It is believed by the experts that the party to gain Muslim vote bank somehow supports illegal immigration. It also benefits the availability of cheap labour from Bangladesh. Hence, it has resulted in the rise of illegal migrants infiltrating into the metro cities.
Advocate Manisha Rote, Mahila Pradesh Congress General Secretary said, “Congress party always has a secular stand as we believe that injustice should not be meted against anyone. Immigrants arrive here to earn their livelihood and we view it from the perspective of humanity. We don’t have any concrete laws to stop such illegal migrants. We need the judicial support system to frame new policies for our internal security.”
While last year, during the deporting of illegal Rohingya refugees Congress leader Sushmita Dev, in support of them, had said that the government must consider their case on the grounds of humanity and in accordance with international laws on refugees. She also suggested that the Rohingya Muslims have a right to get protection from the Centre.
Senior Congress leader Ulhas Pawar commented, “During the Congress government, we took strict action against such illegal migrants on a timely basis. If we look at the incident of Rohingya immigrants, it was just a help to humanity as they suffered an attack in their native country. There is a need to frame a policy to have secured boundaries worldwide.”
Considering Assam having the second highest percentage of Muslim population and the state was never mentioned to be in the arena of nation’s political interference earlier, the exercise to deport the Bangladeshis has taken place ahead of the upcoming general elections raises a question of political influence as the issue was not given importance at a time when the Rohingya Muslims were deported. The government must take stringent action rather beating around the bush for using it as a means to derive political mileage.
The migrant Bengalis of the country residing in different states also suffer due to illegal immigrants as they are looked down upon and stated amongst those. When AV spoke to Bengalis residing in the slum areas of the city they also shared the same views and grievances.
Putul Das Mullick, a Bengali slum dweller from Andheri East spoke to AV and shared the grievances people from West Bengal suffer from due to the influx of illegal Bangladeshi migrants in the city. Denying naming any, she also said, “There are few families in adjacent areas too who claim to be from Bengal but when inquired, they fail to share any of their ancestral histories.”
“My husband is a daily wage worker and often he complains of being harassed by his co-workers who abuse him alleging that we too are illegal Bangladeshi migrants. But, we are not. Our entire family belongs to West Midnapore. We are staying far away from our native place just to earn our livelihood and stay in peace,” she added.