January 24, 2005


Small children from Mahakalapada block of Orissa’s Kendrapara district protest:

"The government says we are Bangladeshis. It wants to send us to Bangladesh. We are Indians. We know that you love children. Please have mercy. Save us from dying in Bangladesh,"

But nobody could save the two-month-old baby, who died due to night chill while being detained as an illegal Bangladeshi in New Delhi. His father was deported to Bangladesh sometimes back. Many will wonder what these poor people have done to deserve this?

A savage politics is being played in India particularly in Orissa where the government has issued "Quit India" notices to alleged illegal Bangladeshi immigrants where some of them had taken shelter way back in 1949.

The illegal migration issue is being tackled by both Bangladesh and India government as reactive but not proactive. No government is contemplating on the whole issue and strike at the root cause of migration, rather than throwing the poor migrants (many wrongly listed) into each-other's territory. There were much push-in & push-back incidents without a real solution to the problem.

As the people of border areas of Bangladesh and India has more similarities than discord, illegal trade and immigration very much exist there. And not all the time the migration is one-way; sometimes the tide comes towards Bangladesh too. The main cause of Bangladeshis to migrate towards India is environmental. During the floods in 2004, more than 60% of the country were submerged in flood water. People fled to drier parts of the country and some has crossed the border. India's water diversions are blamed for environmental damage that induces rural-urban migration within Bangladesh and the migration of Bangladeshis to India. There are also factors like women trafficking, unemployment and poor economy which facilitates migration.

So what could be the ways to solve the problem?

* The water sharing between Bangladesh and India is proper and joint steps must be taken to stop the devastation of floods caused by those water resources.

* National ID card scheme for both Bangladesh & India

* Fencing might be a preventive but it must meet all international standards like keeping proper no-mans land etc.

* Stop illegal trade from India to Bangladesh, so that Bangladeshi industries can flourish creating much jobs

* Stop detaining and deporting alleged immigrants and stop the politics with this people (like using as vote banks). This is inhumane and will create more tensions between the two countries. When the national ID card would be introduced, it would be easier to trace and protect illegal migration.

* The both government should act through diplomatic channel and avoid push-ins and push-backs. Any decision of taking back identified illegal migrants should be endorsed by both central governments rather than local authorities.


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