Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee was one of the first persons to oppose the NRC that was undertaken in Assam. She continues to oppose the NRC even as Union home minister, Amit Shah has repeatedly said that the exercise would need to be undertaken everywhere.

The new report by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) does not paint a pretty picture for West Bengal in particular. The report that was released recently for 2017 states that Bengal has the highest number of foreign prisoners in the country. 

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There are 1,379 foreigners lodged in the jails of Bengal and this accounts for 61.9% of the foreign prisoners in the country, the NCRB report said.  The report further said that there are 1,403 Bangladeshi convicts in India of which 1,284 alone are in West Bengal.

The reports for 2015 and 2016 are no different. In the year 2015, the NCRB said that Bengal alone accounted for 57.6% of the crimes in the category of foreigners committing crimes. Further, if one takes a look at the World Migration Report of 2018, the Bangladeshi-India corridor is the second-most-used corridor for migration. The first on this list was the India-UAE corridor.

The birth of the problem:

In Bengal, it has almost become a norm to safeguard illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The problem is not new and parties such as the Congress, CPI(M) and now the TMC have all been protective of these elements as it had become their vote bank. 

The Research and Analysis Wing had sensed this problem several years ago. In the year 1992, it prepared a report about the large influx of Bangladeshis that was being planned. The agency realised that it was the Jamaat-e-Islami, which was behind this and an operation was launched to immobilise the outfit. The R&AW learnt that this major infiltration was being planned along with Pakistan in a bid to create East Pakistan.

The operation was successful to an extent, but then the interference by the political parties ensured that the infiltrations continued unabated. Today, the same parties cry human rights, whenever the issue is raked up.

The bomb from Bengal:

A rough estimate available with the home ministry suggests that in the late 1990s there were over 3 crore illegal immigrants in Bengal alone. Over the years, this figure has doubled and what became more worrisome is that since Bengal was unable to hold so many of them, the Bangladeshis started migrating to other parts of the country. Data available also suggests that between 1971 and 1996, there was a 300% increase in the number of such cases. In the year 2016, it was estimated by the home ministry that there were 20 million illegal Bangladeshis staying in India. 

Post the 1971 war, the government did not take enough steps to curb the problem of illegal immigration. This led to a large number of Bangladeshis coming into Bengal and the CPI(M) was quick to exploit this. The influx continued and the government turned a blind eye to it.

Today, if we look at the blast that took place in Burdwan and also the one at Bodhgaya, there were Bangladeshis who were involved. In fact the NIA probe into the Burdwan blast revealed that the Jamat-ul-Mujahideen, Bangladesh had roped in several illegal immigrants and gave them work at bomb factories.

The JMB had planned on making over 500 bombs and some were even meant to be transported to Bangladesh. Further, they were also catering to the local politicians who use bombs in their political wars.

Over the years, the problem of illegal immigrants became a deadly cocktail. The illegal immigrants were taking away jobs of locals as well as their benefits. They were being catered to more by the government than the local public. This was a larger ploy by the ISI and Bangladesh to create tension in India so that the locals and the illegal migrants spar with each other.

Today, the home ministry says that it has inputs of the JMB using Madrasas in both Burdwan and Murshidabad to radicalise the youth and also recruit. The JMB has with it a large number of foot soldiers, most of them who are from Bangladesh. A home ministry official told MyNation that urgent action is needed against the illegal immigrants. Outfits such as the JMB, which thrive in Bengal, has now tied up with the Islamic State and report to a person by the name Abu Muhammad al-Bengali.

Fake currency racket:

The illegal immigrants have been used to spread terror as well as destabilise the economy. The terror groups take advantage of their financial status and offer such work to them for a small amount of money, which they do gladly. Also they are threatened that they would be sent back if they did not undertake this work.

If one looks at the probes into the fake currency racket, in 9 out of 10 cases, it has been found that the landing point is West Bengal. Malda in Bengal has in fact become the capital of this racket. The route was changed by the ISI after its agents were busted in large numbers while moving fake currency through the borders at Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

Pakistan would pump the fake currency directly into Bangladesh and this would then be moved to Malda. The arrest of one Mohammad Akbar last October clearly shows how deeply infested this racket is. Akbar would report to the key accused, Saddam Hussain and Amirul Hoque. The fake currency would land at Malda and then with the help of touts from both Bengal and Bangladesh, it would be circulated to different parts of the country. The reach they built was immense and they managed to transport fake currency with ease to both Bengaluru as well as Vishakapatanam, the NIA probe found.

A free run:

Terrorists such as Jahidul Islam and Habibur Rehma, both accused in the Bodhgaya blasts, had a free run and would always find a safe haven in Bengal. Rehman, who was arrested from Bengaluru earlier this year, said that he had planned the attack in Bengal along with his associates.

After the blast, he had travelled to various parts of the country such as Bengaluru, Kerala, Chennai. NIA officials say that the worry is that these persons were easily able to find people in Bengal and with great ease transport them to different parts of the country.

The case was similar in Burdwan as well. It was only in October 2019 the agencies learnt that there was something big cooking. An accidental blast is what blew the lid of the operation at Burdwan, following which a thorough probe was undertaken. 60% of those who were working on this plan for several years were found to be Bangladeshis. 

The Burdwan probe led the agencies to Birbhum where it was found that a similar modus operandi with the help of illegal immigrants was being undertaken. What the agencies learnt was that bomb factories with illegal immigrants were being run in Bengal like cottage industries. There was a great demand for these bombs as the local politicians would purchase it to fight their political wars. The investigations and subsequent arrests led the agencies to find that those illegal immigrants working in these bomb factories were being paid a paltry Rs 60 per day.

It is not human rights:

It has become fashionable to cry human rights, each time the problem of illegal immigration is raised. Several officials have pointed out that the real issue is voting rights. Once declared an illegal immigrant, these persons lose their voting rights and this is what the political parties opposing NRC are really worried about.

The NRC is only an exercise which determines what is legitimate and what is not. Once declared illegal, they would be tried and sentenced. They would continue to live here, but minus the rights.

The agencies have on several occasions signalled the larger problem behind this. These illegal immigrants are provided documents such as voters’ ID, Aadhaar, etc upon arrival. They manage to get the jobs thus depriving the locals of their rights. Today, there is a new concept that has emerged in Bengal and it is known as Land Jihad. Several poor native Hindus have been alleging that they are being thrown out of their land by the illegal immigrants with the help of local politicians. 

The police speak about the gangs that are being operated by the illegal immigrants. These gangs are not just involved in circulating fake currency, but also cow smuggling and narcotics. The money that they earn from this is used to undertake this new concept known as land jihad.