“A Crisis Of Credibility”
On illegal migration and danger to our country, due to Inaction by the Government.
The responsibility of controlling the ingress of foreigners, is that of the Government of India. Out total international border runs into about 15,318 km in which borders with Bangladesh have a length of approximately 4,000 km, running along the States of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, and Tripura.
A minister of State in the Home Ministry has said on August 10, 2011 “As per information available, 1,283 Pakistani nationals remain untraced/missing as on June 30, 2011.” It is entirely different what was said a month earlier.
Despite the terror threat faced by the country from illegal migrants, the Home Ministry does not maintain centralised information about persons crossing over from Pakistan and Bangladesh without valid documents. It said according to an RTI reply of July, 2011 “It is not possible to estimate the total number of such foreign nationals, including Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals, who have entered the country without valid travel documents and are staying in the country since entry of such foreign nationals into the country is clandestine and surreptitious.”
It also added that over 73,000 persons from various countries have overstayed after the expiry of their visa period of which nearly 50 per cent from Bangladesh and about 10 per cent were from Pakistan, according to data of December 31, 2009.
Within one month, the Union Ministry is making two widely divergent statements on the same subject. It is entirely different, from what, the then Union Home Minister, late Shri Inderjeet Gupta had said in 1996 in Parliament that over 25 Million Bangladeshis were illegally staying in India ,
Except where it suits, the central government refuses to Act, even in the face of judicial pronouncement. The Apex Court has held in 2005, that the provisions of the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, 1983 were ultra vires the Constitution of India and were accordingly struck down. The Illegal Migrants ( Determination by Tribunals) Rules 1984 were also ultra vires and struck down.
The issue of illegal immigration figured prominently during the Chief Minister’s Conference on Internal Security and Law and Order, held in New Delhi later on.
In this conference serious differences emerged among the North-eastern states on this issue and some states even openly accused Assam of contributing to the illegal immigration problem in northeast. The then, Nagaland Chief Minister, virtually charged Assam for not taking any step to check it.
He said, “Assam has almost become a breeding ground for illegal migrants as they are procuring documents like ration cards there and then coming to the hills, this is very dangerous.” He also claimed that such migrants were being settled in disputed areas between Assam and several other states. He also urged Assam to settle the decades-long boundary disputes with Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur in an accommodative spirit as it was the largest state in the region.
According to a former Governor of Assam, “57 of Assam’s 126 constituencies were found to have more than 20 per cent increases in the number of voters between 1994 and 1997, whereas the all-India average is just 7.4 per cent.”
This dramatic increase indicated the presence of a large number of voters who were illegal migrants from Bangladesh. He added, that the revision of electoral rolls in Mangaldoi Parliamentary Constituency in Assam in 1979 detected the names of thousands of Bangladeshi nationals and the entire population of Assam revolted against this.
He also felt, that without knowing the long-term effects of the issue, most Muslims, by and large, were sympathetic to Bangladeshi infiltrators. Thus, the infiltrators have a much larger say in the political spectrum of the country. For instance, when the Maharashtra Government tried to deport a few hundred Bangladeshi illegal migrants, different political parties started a chorus of politically motivated protests.
There is a direct relationship between the voting intention of these illegal migrants and the different types of political freebies given by the political parties to win their votes, at the election time. This unholy equation creates roadblocks at different levels in checking the continuing illegal migration problem. It is not only a question of illegal migration, but also, the possibility of such elements, possibly becoming sleeper cells, and also helping terrorists.
The truth is that all politicians and political parties, realise the enormity of the problem. But the craving for political gains and getting votes of the illegal migrants, makes the politicians forget the greater need and awareness of the danger, which such an approach, would affect the country. Politics in our country has become a strife interest masquerading as put on stake the principles, which are tailored to suit the occasion. The democracy is based on politics, for which you need politicians and political parties.
The trouble is that politicians are the same all over the world. A politician will say anything if it can get him elected into office. He counts on the public having a short memory and forgetting his promises. The truth is all of us are responsible for the rise of the bad politicians to power. People like to say that if you don’t vote, you can’t complain of who’s in office.
In fact, one politician, who has been the Speaker of the National Parliament pleaded for the granting of the Citizen’s identity cards to all the people in the Northeast, including all illegal Bangladeshis in Assam. An estimate by a former Governor of Arunachal Pradesh and West Bengal holds that about 5 million illegal migrants from Bangladesh are settled in Assam that constitute more than one-fourth of the total population, i.e. 22 million, of the State.
According to the Home Ministry/ Intelligence Bureau sources, “Assam’s alien population from Bangladesh stands at about 4 million.” These reports not only indicate the magnitude of illegal migration but also reflect the enormity of the security threat, apart from depriving the local population of employment opportunity. All countries, including the Western Nations and USA, first want job opportunities for their own citizens rather than for illegal immigrants. They are not apologetic about it, as our Government is.
Machiavelli and Hobbes and others have defined man as a ‘lump of matter’ whose most politically relevant attribute is a form of energy called “self-interestedness.”
It is not simply a question of religion or of illegal migration. It is a question of not being remorseful or repentant for taking such a stand. It is plain issue of protecting our own interests. Says Gough Whitlam; “The punters know that the horse named Morality rarely gets past the winning post, whereas the horse, named Self-interest always runs a good race.” Here the Punter is the Government and it’s better to keep the above observations in mind.
By Joginder Singh
The writer is former Director, CBI