Over the past couple of days, there have been several reports suggesting that Bangladeshi nationals living illegally in India are returning to their home nation. 

The chief Bangladesh’s paramilitary force Director General Maj Gen Md Shafeenul Islam said that a total of 445 Bangladeshi nationals returned from India in the last two months. He said that around 1,000 persons had been arrested in 2019 for illegal border crossings from India to Bangladesh. The verification of their identities found that they were Bangladeshis and it was also found that a few of them were human traffickers, Islam said.

Reverse migration:

This development clearly indicates that there is a reverse migration that is taking place. India has often complained about the huge number of illegal immigrants in India. These persons are robbing locals of their jobs, indulging in anti-national acts, crimes, just to name a few.
A BSF source informed MyNation that nearly 20 such cases are being reported on a daily basis. Many have come to the border from Hyderabad, Karnataka, Assam and even Delhi, the officer said.

Most of these persons have been trying to enter Bangladesh through the Jinahidaho Maheshpur India-Bangladesh border. This large scale reverse migration is taking place due to talks about the National Register of Citizens (NRC). If the NRC is implemented, these persons would be identified and put in detention camps. 

The reverse route:

These illegal immigrants had come into India in large numbers. Many of them obtained voter identification cards and other government documents and continued to live like Indian citizens. Today, the talk of NRC is what has worried them as they are aware that in case they are probed and asked to prove their nationality, they will not be able to do so.

The law prescribes punishment in the form of jail term for such persons. Further, they would be put in detention centres and then deported. In the past couple of months, railway officials too have said that a large number of persons speaking in Bangladeshi dialect have been moving out of various parts of the country. All of them are headed towards Bengal, the state where they first made their entry into.

Those who are returning from the rest of India are landing at Basirhat, Bongaon and Nadia in West Bengal. From here, they are trying to get back to Bangladesh. Officials say that the number of persons trying to return would only increase in the days to come. That apart, the crackdown in Karnataka and other states seeking reports on illegal immigrants has created this panic among them.

It may be recalled that earlier this week, mobile telecom services were turned off along the Indo-Bangladesh border. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission had on Sunday directed its service providers, Grameenphone, Teletalk, Robi and Banglalink to turn off network coverage within one kilometre band along the border areas with India. The order said that this was done for the sake of the country’s security. The decision was however reversed a day later.

This decision was taken to ensure that illegal immigrants do not get in touch with the touts, who have been facilitating their return. There is a due process of law that needs to be followed and the touts were helping them overcome that.

Destination Bengal:

In all cases of reverse migration, it has been found that the illegal Bangladeshi migrants have been reaching Bengal first. While there are many who had entered the country through Assam initially, they have been avoiding the state due to the implementation of the NRC there.

They feel that Bengal, on the other hand, is a safe haven for now, considering the fact that Mamata Banerjee has vowed not to implement the NRC or NPR. Even in the aftermath of the Assam NRC, Mamata had vowed to shelter 40 lakh persons whose names were excluded from the list. There is no update on whether she kept her promise or not.

However not many want to stay back as they are well aware that it is not in the powers of the state to reject an NRC or NPR, since citizenship falls under the Union List. 

Bengal too cannot house such a large number of illegal immigrants. There are bound to be clashes with the locals over the jobs. The job scenario in Bengal is nothing to tom-tom about either and this is the main reason these persons started migrating in such large numbers to the rest of the country.

Bengal has a lot to worry about:

While the political leadership in Bengal may speak openly against the NRC and NPR, the fact is that the locals have started to get weary of the illegal immigrants. There have been proven cases that these persons have been involved in acts of terror, counterfeiting, rape, murder, robbery, etc. Further, there are lobbies in Bengal comprising the illegal immigrants who have snatched away the land of poor Hindus, a modus operandi that the intelligence calls as Land Jihad.

An Intelligence Bureau file also speaks about a major event that took place in Murshidabad, where some highly radicalised Muslims along with with the illegal immigrants had decided to call for an Azadi movement. They had planned on making a declaration to merge Murshidabad with Bangladesh or remain independent. However, the central agencies managed to bust that plot.

These incidents clearly show that they are dangerous in nature. Now with several Bangladeshis returning and making Bengal their first stop over, the administration has much to worry about. If Mamata Banerjee decides to protect them, she would only be adding to the already large population of illegal immigrants and this would not go down too well with the local public, who fear for their security and jobs.

A voluntary trip back is good:

Former officer with the Research and Analysis Wing, Amar Bhushan said that if they are going back, then it is good. Pushing them back by force does not work always as they manage to get back.

If they fear being here and are going back on their own, then it is always better. Most of them going back are from the southern states as they may not be very sure of what lies in store. The trouble however is in Bengal, which is their sanctuary. These persons will land in Bengal first with the hope of being absorbed. But the question is how much can they absorb. There is already a huge population over there, Bhushan also said.

There is a better chance of the new lot leaving India. The older lot may not go easily and this is why the NRC exercise is extremely crucial, Amar Bhushan said. Once the NRC happens, many more will go back. However, if the trip back is voluntary, then there is nothing like it Bhushan also said.