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Bangladesh came into existence as an independent nation in 1971; and millions of Bangladeshi nationals illegally migrated into India due to poverty, hunger, natural disaster and disease. In fact, migration of people from Bangladesh started even before1947 when they came to seek jobs in West Bengal and other border states of the North East India. But major influx of migrants started since 1974 famine in Bangladesh and they settled mostly in Assam where recently, they had a serious conflict with the people of Bodoland in which 64 people died and thousands of them were displaced. Such conflicts between immigrants and the natives are natural, because illegal immigration can have enormous demographic and social implications for the country.

Migration is a change of residence by an individual or a group of individuals, excluding short-term labour movement or tourism. People generally migrate in search of better living conditions. Migration can be classified as internal within the country or international migration. The movement of individuals or groups within the country is called internal migration while migration involving crossing of the national boundaries is called international migration. Migration can also be forced or voluntary. It can be legal or illegal. Illegal migration involves migrating into a country in a clandestine manner without permission and relevant documents. Illegal migration can often adversely affect the socio-economic status of a country.

The border between India and Bangladesh is porous and it serves the natives of Bangladesh as a push factor. The political and economic conditions in Bangladesh are extremely oppressive for religious and ethnic minorities and they look for greener pastures outside the country. The pauperization of landless rural masses constitutes the push factors for these people. On the other hand ‘pull factors’ are the situations or conditions that attract one to a foreign country. Such conditions in India include job opportunities, access to the public distribution system, social security benefits, free education, easy acquisition of immovable property, enlistment as voters and, above all, a congenial socio-cultural atmosphere. All these attract Bangladeshi migrants to India.

The political parties in India have allowed this continuous migration from Bangladesh to treat them as a vote-bank. As per the reports, the migrants have not only procured ration cards, driving licenses and voter identity cards, but also PAN cards so that they may conceal their real identity. As a result there are now 15-20 million Bangladeshis in India which adversely affects our economy and poses a grave threat to national security and communal harmony.

The parliamentary panel report has pointed out that the porous border between India and Bangladesh is the main reason for such a large scale influx of people from Bangladesh. The Home Ministry has taken various measures like construction of border fencing, flood lighting and roads to enable more effective patrolling. The India Government’s plan to identify, detect and deport all the immigrants is overambitious. A more pragmatic approach should be used to prevent further infiltration.

With such a large population of illegal immigrants settling in Assam, the clashes between the two communities are bound to take place. The immigrants wish to share the fruit of development in the area but the native residents of Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District (BTAC) have resisted creating a serious situation that resulted in the death of 56 persons and displacement of several thousand people. The situation in Kokrajhar district of Assam became so tense that curfew had to be imposed and strict measures were taken to control the warring communities. The natives demand that the illegal migrants should be deported back to Bangladesh. Looking dispassionately at this problem, it is not possible to deport such a large number of immigrants from Bangladesh. We have to deal with the problem from a humanitarian angle also. But yes, we must take urgent measures to check further illegal movement of people on the border. The two countries should discuss the matter to find a workable solution to the arduous problem. India should help Bangladesh to create better living conditions in that country to stop further migration to India.

 In the meantime, India should devise a coordinated action plan which should include the following five points. One, there should be a time-bound exhaustive census of the immigrant population and their locations. Two, streamline border management and use proper legal measures to detain illegal entrants. The third measure should be discipline the BSF and weed out corruption. The fourth measure should be to create a separate immigration service and finally sustained diplomacy geared to enlisting international support to check illegal infiltration of Bangladeshi people in India.

India has to initiate these measures, because it has come to light that terrorists targeting India may follow this route to perpetrate their nefarious plans and damage our interest. The US, which was once a haven for immigrants, has now put in place severe restrictions on them, particularly after destruction of world trade center. We should adopt all such measures which will ensure safety of our people and interest. To reverse the trend of illegal immigration, one well known political commentator has suggested that
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