Illegal Immigrants & Delhi’s apathy

Despite the gloom and dark following the large scale violence in Assam, the one silver lining or perhaps a small light at the end of the tunnel is this: It has brought into focus the problem of illegal migration, mostly from Bangladesh, into the national limelight. The seriousness of the problem in Assam has drawn Parliament’s attention. Although an adjournment motion moved by the BJP against the government's alleged failure to contain violence in Assam was defeated in the Lok Sabha, nevertheless it did allow for a proper discussion on the issue. Hopefully even the mainstream media will take up this issue of illegal immigrant in right earnest so that proper dialogue and discussion is continued till some consensus is reached on how best to address the problem. We the people including the government must accept the fact about the illegal immigrant issue. The time for denial is past. This is it and the sooner we find answers to address the issue, the better it will be for everyone including those who have come from outside. Hopefully the debate in Parliament will give shape and direction towards framing a national law on this all important question of immigration and all other related concerns. It is high time we do so given the impact this issue has on national security. Obviously the problem with the current discourse on the illegal immigrant issue is that it is highly politicized. Depending on your political ideology, the debate is invoked. What you get is therefore only reiteration of the old pre-conceived positions. We need to move away from our prejudices and rather look at the issue fairly and squarely. 

Until we can arrive at a fair and truthful assessment of the situation, nevertheless we need to follow through on the things that we know is for sure. And for certainty we know there is a problem of foreign illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Can the government and lawmakers, irrespective of political party or ideology, now do something decisive before the problem becomes insurmountable? While not all Muslims whether in Assam or the other Northeastern States are illegal and foreigners, nevertheless what is happening around us, in particular, the latest violence in Assam, should be a lesson on the difficulties posed by immigrants (irrespective of religion, race or creed) from outside. Now coming to what we know for sure i.e. the problem of illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, the oft repeated demand is for immediate steps to complete fencing on India's border with Bangladesh to check illegal infiltration. In fact, taking part in a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the ethnic violence in Assam, the BJP even alleged that about 50 km of the Indian border with Bangladesh had been "deliberately kept unfenced". The government at the Centre should expedite this demand for fencing because this is a national problem and there is wide consensus on this suggestion. The BJP has been accusing the Congress led government in Assam as well as the Centre for not taking enough steps to curb infiltration of foreigners. The Congress party should perhaps clarify whether the allegation of vote bank politics is indeed true. A well known senior television journalist has even disclosed about her interview with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh wherein the latter mentioned that New Delhi had never raised this matter with Dhaka. This only goes to explain the complete indifference shown by the government of India to tackle this problem of illegal immigrant.