New Delhi [India]: Nearly 14,000 Bangladeshi nationals were sent back and averted from entering at Indo-Bangladesh border in India since 2019, said a Border Security Force (BSF) report accessed by ANI.
According to the report, as many as 9,233 Bangladeshis have been held at IB while they were trying to flee back after their ‘illegal’ stay in the country.
“At least 4,896 Bangladeshi nationals were held while trying to enter India from the neighbouring country during the same period i.e. 1 January 2019 to 28 April 2022,” it said further.
Thus, 14,361 Bangladeshi nationals were intercepted crisscrossing the border in just over three years.
The report found that the maximum number of illegal migrants entering or leaving India is from the South Bengal border. A majority — 11,034 Bangladeshi nationals out of a total of 14,361 Bangladeshi nationals held at the International Border (IB) during the infiltration attempts — were held at the South Bengal border.
A senior BSF officer said that around 80 per cent of the illegal immigrants entering or leaving India from Bangladesh take place in the southern parts of Bengal owing to the unfenced and riverine borders. South Bengal border runs from Sundarban to Malda.
India shares a 4,096-km-long boundary with Bangladesh, of which the South Bengal Frontier shares 913.32 km, of which more than 50 per cent is either unfenced or riverine in nature, at certain places where the villages are right on the IB, making it difficult for the security forces to detect infiltration.
A senior official from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) added that they have changed their approach while dealing with the problem over the period.
“To deal with illegal immigration problem at Bangladesh borders, we have asked security forces to hand them over to the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) as a goodwill gesture, after verifying if they were not involved in any criminal activities in India. Because there was no purpose of putting them in jail,” he said.
He added that most of the people who crossed over the border illegally have come in search of livelihood.
In December 2019, after the Parliament cleared Citizenship (Amendment) Act, there was a surge in the migration of illegal immigrants. In 2020, only 1,214 immigrants attempted to enter India, while 3,463 left the country.
A nationwide lockdown was also enforced in the same year because of the Covid-19. This, too, is believed to have impacted the illegal movement.
A senior BSF officer said they held men, women and children while they were attempting to cross over to India. Touts active on both sides of the border assisted them in the crossover.
“Most of the illegal immigrants were lured of better employment, pay and quality life in India and they were asked to pay a large sum to assist them in illegally crossing the International Boundary,” said the officer.
He added that the infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals has curbed down in the last few years because of better border management like coordination with Bangladesh counterpart, fencing at the border, and technology-supported patrolling.
Another officer said that there are substantial incidents in which people are illegally trying to cross the international border and enter Bangladesh.
“We won’t call it exodus but crackdown of various government agencies on illegal immigrants, all over the country, that have forced many of them (immigrants) to leave and go back to their country,” he said.
The effective border management system shot down cases of infiltration and brought down the cases of cattle smuggling and smuggling of drugs from the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The BSF officers added that they have more than 85 per cent of fencing along the Indo-Bangladesh border. But at some damaged places, they are replacing the fencing with Anti Cut-Anti-Climb. (ANI)