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Legal or illegal, B’deshis are a splitting Dispur headache

A section of Bangladeshis entering the State with valid documents stay back even after expiry of visa periods

Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, May 5: Hordes of Bangladeshis entering Assam either legally with valid documents or illegally have proved to be a migraine of sorts for Dispur as the problem has already had its offshoots in illegal immigration in the first place, making it a Herculean task for the Assam Government to solve.

It is commonplace that people from Bangladesh enter Assam through the porous international border and stay back in Assam. Most of the infiltrators from the neighbouring country continue to stay back in the State even after they are declared foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals. After their declaration as foreigners they successfully give Assam police the slip. The track record of the State administration, including the police administration, in sending back detected and declared Bangladeshis to their country is abysmally poor. 

The problem does not end there. The problem is getting complicated as time passes by. It has come to light that even a section of Bangladeshis who enter Assam with valid documents like passports and visas stay back in the State even after their visa periods are over. Detection of a number of such cases has exposed the enormity of the problem that is multifarious in nature. 

One of the modus operandi  they follow is that apart from illegal infiltration through the porous international border, Bangladeshis come to Assam with passports and visas, but many of them stay back even after expiry of their respective visa periods. They simply get blended with some people of the State, making the situation quite difficult for the border police to find them out. Bangladeshis also enter Assam through immigration check-posts (ICPs) along the border districts with valid documents. However, a section of them do not go back to Bangladesh even after the expiry of the period of stay allowed to them. 

Records available with Dispur say that at least 30 foreigners, mostly from Bangladesh, who entered Assam with passports and visas have not gone back to their countries even after the expiry of their period of stay. What is even more shocking is that around 200 Bangladeshis who entered Assam through ICPs with valid documents have not gone back to Bangladesh through which they entered Assam. As many as 72 Bangladeshis, who had entered Assam with valid documents but opted to stay back here illegally even after expiry of their allowed periods of stay, were caught since March 2013. They were sent back to Bangladesh after the Foreigners Tribunals declared them foreigners. 

This makes it crystal clear that these newer incidents are offshoots of the problem of illegal infiltration from the neighbouring country. Such Bangladeshis legally enter Assam on various trade-related assignments. The ground reality, many political pundits believe, is that the earlier immigrants from Bangladesh who make a sizable population in Assam are the ones who the newer legal or illegal infiltrators get blended into.

Making Assam free from Bangladeshis is a promise of the new dispensation at Dispur that is completing two years on May 24 this year. With only three years of its term to go, it is high time the coalition government in the State did something tangible to get the problem of Bangladeshis solved. 

One of the promises of the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre is also making Assam free from foreigners. With only one year of its term to go, it is about time New Delhi put pressure on Bangladesh to cooperate in helping solve the problem without further delay.