The nation is paying a heavy price for the indifference of the centre towards ongoing illegal infiltration from Bangladesh. Investigations have revealed that the number of illegal Bangladeshis in India is more than a 100 million and they have become a serious threat to the country'snational security. With political patronage in getting fake identity and ration cards they have created corridors of influence across the country. In states like Assam and West Bengal, parts of Orissa, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh they have come to dictate the political destinies of parties like CPI(M), Congress, Samajwadi Party and RJD. Now comes another equally disturbing expose that these people are involved in trafficking women and cattle across the border.
The recent revelation by the Border Security Force (BSF) that 1.3 lakh cattle are smuggled across Bangla border every year has not come as a surprise. A report from Orissa speaks of another racket involving Bangladeshi migrants who were arrested for kidnapping and selling women for illegal activities. Smuggling livestock, food items, arms and various other commodities from India has become a thriving business on the Indo-Bangla border. But human trafficking and cattle smuggling are more sensitive and they point to the utter failure of the country'sinternal security system. It is an open challenge to the nation'smoral fibre.
Laws are in place in many states to protect cow. Many states have banned cow slaughter. There is strict vigilance against the transport of cattle from one state to another. The astonishing nature and the astronomical number of the cattle smuggled from India shows the total failure of the border surveillance system.
It has exposed the claims of the central government that it had taken a number of steps to prevent cattle smuggling from India. As part of the security strategy, the Centre has taken several measures to curb smuggling and other trans-border activities and crimes. These include round-the-clock surveillance of borders by the BSF, introduction of modern surveillance equipment and up-gradation of the intelligence machinery.
But cattle smuggling on the Indo-Bangladesh border continues unabated. Like infiltration. The number of seizures for the last three years by the Border Security Force (BSF) has been pegged around 1.3 lakh cattle each year. This level of success cannot be claimed in the case of illegal migrants.
While 1,19,832 cattle were seized by security forces in 2008, the figure stood at 1,33,173 in 2007 and 1,29,313 in 2006. This year, 12,381 cattle have been seized in January alone, clearly pointing to the failure of the measures initiated by the Union Home Ministry for checking the menace.
Other measures taken by the Centre include border fencing and floodlighting, setting up of 1,185 border outposts along the India-Bangladesh border. Of these, 802 outposts have been operationalised so far. North Bengal districts like Cooch Behar, Malda and Dinajpur have riverine and porous stretches along the India-Bangladesh border and are used for human trafficking and smuggling of cattle. It is a thriving business on both sides of the international border, a BSF official said.
According to the BSF officials, the local administration on the border districts are to be blamed for providing tacit support to the smugglers. The officials even claimed that the seized cattle are returned to the local smugglers. There is a similar racket in allowing illegal migrants to crossing the border, according to these sources.
The BJP has been repeatedly telling the Union Government to plug all loopholes in the anti-terror mechanisms. A major component in this is to effectively check infiltration from Bangladesh, since the Union Government had admitted that infiltration from across the eastern borders was a threat to the nation. Union Home Minister P Chidambaram immediately after taking charge of his new department, in the wake of the November 2008 Mumbai terror attack found Bangladeshi infiltrators a threat to the nation, causing demographic changes. The vote bank consideration never allowed the UPA to consider infiltration a serious problem. If Chidambaram was really serious the Government should take immediate steps to deport all illegal immigrants. The government should start it from Assam as it is the most affected and ruled by the Congress. A monthly quota should be fixed for the deportation and it should be completed on a time-bound manner. Any dereliction or delay will prove catastrophic for the country.