180 Bangladeshis arrested while fleeing India, NRC listed among reasons
National Register of Citizens (NRC) and police crackdown on Bangladeshis living illegally in India, may have led to a surge in reverse migration, evidenced in the arrest of 180 Bangladeshis, caught while fleeing India in the last twenty days, said police.
Some of the arrested men had been living in India for five to 12 years and two of them were even carrying Indian citizenship documents. A Bangladesh police officer said while reverse migration was not at all rare, the number was unusually high.
Bangladesh border guards, who made the arrests between November 1 and 19, initially suspected it to be a case of infiltration from India but were surprised to find that most had families and properties in Bangladesh. All the arrested people were handed over to Mohespur police station in Jhenaidah district of Bangladesh, across West Bengal’s Nadia district.
“They said they went to work in India and returned because of unfavourable circumstances. In India, most of these people lived in Bengaluru,” said Rashedul Alam, officer-in-charge of Moheshpur police station.
Bengaluru police arrested 60 Bangladeshis in a recent crackdown and sent them to the border on Saturday to be repatriated.
A senior West Bengal Police officer, who follows illegal immigration, said, along with the Bengaluru crackdown, Indian government’s decision to identify illegal residents through the NRC (National Register of Citizens) exercise, may have also influenced the retreat.
“The fear of pan-India NRC possibly stopped them from moving to any other Indian state,” said the officer who did not want to be identified.
Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, a professor of political science and migration expert, also listed NRC as a possible cause.
“The arrest of 180 persons in 20 days from just one police station area is unusual. I think that the fear of citizenship screening exercise and India’s economic slowdown have both played a role in this,” Ray Chaudhury said.
The West Bengal BJP welcomed the news and said the “fear of NRC” had started to work and the illegal immigrants knew that they can’t be “protected by anyone”.
“Those in Bengal are still banking on Mamata Banerjee’s promise of stalling the NRC. They too will start returning to Bangladesh once they realise that Banerjee can do nothing,” said state unit president Dilip Ghosh.
“Half of the task of sending back infiltrators will be finished even before the actual process of NRC starts,” Ghosh added.