The illegal migration of Bangladeshis may have become a huge poll issue with BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi repeatedly stressing that those who have crossed over to India without valid documents would have to go back, but the expert opinion is very clear that such a step is practically impossible now.
“The illegal migrants from Bangladesh are now scattered all over the country, from Srinagar to Modi’s Gujarat and Goa. Our past experience shows that there is zero percent chance of sending them back due to the impracticality of the exercise.
The situation is likely to remain the same even if Modi comes to power,” says PK Mishra, who retired from Border Security Force (BSF) as an additional director general and served at the Indo-Bangladesh border for the most part of his service.
Mishra is now a senior fellow with the Vivekanand International Foundation.
According to Mishra, the only feasible option before the government is make these illegal migrants stateless citizens.
In a concerted effort, all the states identify those who are illegal migrants and deprive them the right to vote or own land here.
“They are skilled labourers. Give them proper identity card with work permit. Let them remain here like Afghan or Tibetan refugees,” Mishra said.
Mishra added that those who have been convicted by the court for illegally crossing to India should be ‘pushed back’ rather than being handed over to Bangladeshi authorities.
“When the BSF tells Bangladeshi authorities to take back these illegal migrants, they come back after three months to tell us that no such person exits there. So the court should allow them to be pushed back rather than being handed over. We must focus our energies to fill all gaps at the border to stop illegal migration now onwards,” Mishra said.