The problem of illegal immigration in West Bengal has been an often discussed subject. In fact, when a nationwide NRC was proposed, it was West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee who opposed it first. Three years ago, BJP chief, J P Nadda’s convoy was attacked in West Bengal and the party blamed the goons of the TMC. During a rally held on the same Nadda said that the people of Bangladesh are coming to West Bengal and settling here, while the natives of the state are being driven out by the Trinamool Congress.
The problem with the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh is nothing new. The bigger issue is that these persons no longer come to Bengal in search of jobs and livelihood. They run a strong crime syndicate which indulges in bomb-making (Burdwan), land grabbing and the fake Indian currency racket.
Back in 1992, the Research and Analysis Wing had prepared a report in which it spoke about a large influx of Bangladeshis that was being planned. It was the Jamaat-e-Islami, which was behind this and the operation was launched in a bid to create East Pakistan. The agency pointed out that the operation had been a success to a large extent thanks to the political parties in Bengal and the human rights activists. A rough estimate with the Home Ministry suggests that in the late 1990s there were around 3 crore illegal immigrants in Bengal alone. The figure has doubled over the years. The ticking bomb in Bengal is not restricted to the state alone. The population of illegal immigrants have grown fourfold over the years and this has led them to move to other states as well. Back in 2012, the Intelligence Bureau had reported that the issue was catching up like wild fire in the states of West Bengal, Kerala, Telangana (then AP) and Karnataka. The report stated that there are all sorts of people. Many are here in search of a livelihood, but then there are many who indulge in illegal activities such as smuggling as drugs and sometimes arms. They come into the country through West Bengal and gradually move into other parts of the country. While touts and middlemen help them with documents, there are others who take advantage of their poor living conditions and lure them with money in order to carry out illegal activities. Another modus operandi that came to light recently was how illegal immigrants were trying to get themselves registered as Indian citizens. When the NRC exercise took place in Assam, officials found that these persons were trying to get themselves included in the NRC despite being declared as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunal. They were providing their voter ID cards as evidence to show that they were Indian citizens. Investigations also revealed that they had managed to source these id cards by using legacy codes of other persons. With the help of agents, these persons had bribed people obtain the legacy data codes. The officials found that there were at least 40 lakh instances of a family tree mismatch and the persons using the same code were unable to identify each other. The Muslim migrants who had infiltrated into India were running this racket. 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.
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.
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