West Bengal accounted for more than half the cases of ‘infiltration’ into India in 2017 and more than 60% between 2014 and 2017, the Crime in India data released by the National Crime Records Bureau has revealed.
Infiltration has been a matter of intense political controversy in Bengal, where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the state’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) have locked horns over the former’s threat to drive out infiltrators.
In 2017, of the total 2,083 cases registered in India, 1,181 (or 56.69 per cent) were in West Bengal. In 2016, the state accounted for 1,680 of the total 2,813 cases (or 59.72 per cent) cases registered in the country. In 2015, Bengal’s share stood at 1,872 of 2,863 cases (or 65.38 per cent), and in 2014, as many as 1,669 of the 2701 cases (61.79) were registered in the state.
Overall, between 2014 and 2017, West Bengal accounted for 6,402 of the total 10,460 cases (61.20 per cent) registered in India under these five Acts.
In 2017, Tamil Nadu was a distant second behind Bengal with 169 cases (or 8.11 per cent) of infiltration.
While the BJP has claimed that the data validated their point that West Bengal has become a ‘safe haven’ for infiltrators, TMC argued that the figures prove the state’s alertness in tracking down illegal entry or stay to the country.
“The figures prove what we have been repeatedly saying. West Bengal has turned into a safe haven for infiltrators and the reason is political backing. West Bengal has emerged as a threat to national security because the ruling party has instructed the administration to go soft on infiltrators,” said BJP state unit general secretary Sayantan Basu.
“People should now realise why we have been demanding citizenship screening exercise in West Bengal,” Basu added.
Trinamool Congress, however, refuted BJP’s allegations. Minister of state for parliamentary affairs, Tapas Roy, argued that the data actually reveal the alertness of the state administration.
“A number of these cases were filed by the state police. We are as committed to protecting the rights of the Indian citizens as in acting against those who entered the country illegally. We have never compromised on national security and never will,” said Roy, a veteran TMC leader.
Roy also said that the issue of checking illegal entry to India is primarily the concern of the Border Security Force, which functions under the Union government. He argued that a good number of these infiltrators cross the border in other Bangladesh-bordering states, such as Assam and Tripura, but later head towards Kolkata, as the city is the prime economic hub of the east and the north east.
“The Centre needs to sit with the state and improve mechanism to stop the entry at the border,” Roy said.
However, BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha alleged that the state government has not been cooperating with the Centre in providing land for erecting fences along some stretches of the border without any fence. “The Bangladeshi nationals arrested for their connection with the Burdwan (2014) and Bodh Gaya (2018) blasts infiltrated into India through the Bengal border,” said Sinha.
The cases related to illegal entry and overstay are filed under five acts – Foreigners Act, 1946, Registration of Foreigners Act, 1939, Citizenship Act, 1955, Emigration Act, 1983 and Passport Act, 1967.
Oct 26, 2019 11:41 IST