The much-discussed and internationally-hailed pact signed between the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, is merely a small step in the right direction. Displaced humans living on the fringes of both the countries, without the dignity of a nationality to fit into, were seen raising Indian and Bangla flags with uninhibited joy on television channels. They finally belonged!
The agreement put to end one of the world’s most pig-headed border disputes that have kept thousands of people in stateless limbo for nearly 70 years.
Almost all of the Bangladeshis living in the 51 Bangladesh enclaves decided to switch nationalities, becoming Indians with just a wish. Approximately 50,000 people will be able to access citizenship benefits, such as schools and healthcare. This is a welcome development.
But what about the hundreds of thousands of illegal Bangladeshi migrants who use the international border to enter Assam? They have been creating havoc in the State and Modi must act on his commitment to ensure this problem is addressed.
A few months ago, I was holidaying with my friends in Assam. It was a lifetime experience. The scenic beauty, the snow capped mountains, and the crystal clear lakes still make me weak with nostalgia. But there was something else, and it was not pleasant.
Scores of Bangladeshi immigrants are living illegally in the State. Unfortunate incidents reported claim B.S.F jawans take bribe and let the Bangladeshis in. They have become an integral part of the society, infringing upon the right of an Assamese India to avail job opportunities.
The government is in a fix, let’s give them that. They are up against an undetectable enemy. Another problem is the lack of exact figures on the number of illegal immigrants who have breached Indian borders. These Bangladeshis are presumed to be treated by politicians as vote banks. The illegal immigrants have also infested West Bengal, Tripura, and Delhi/NCR.
The Government is entrusted with the tedious task of making policies on the basis of the census report. Employment generation, funding and housing facilities are, therefore, accordingly made. These illegal immigrants are not part of the census report, meaning that the employment generated is always lesser than what it should be. These immigrants work on lower wages, hence, leaving the ones for whom the employment was actually generated without a job.
What about national security? Aren’t they a threat? The recent incident of two Bangladeshi nationals, suspected to be members of a terrorist organisation, were arrested in UP and a laptop, allegedly containing sensitive information, was seized from them.
The issue of infiltration is a clear and present danger. Unless it is tackled right away, providing nationalities to identity-less people will only serve a limited purpose.