R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Feb 28 - The Government of India is trying to chalk out a comprehensive plan to deal with the problem of infiltration of foreigners, while instructions have been given to the agencies concerned to expedite the construction of border roads and fencing to check infiltration.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, highly placed sources in the Government of India pointed out that the existing method of detection and deportation of foreigners failed to yield the desired results as less than 10 per cent of the persons detected as foreigners could be physically deported to Bangladesh. If a person is sought to be deported, his or her name has to be given to the Bangladesh authorities and they check the original address given by the person. More often than not, the Bangladesh authorities claim that the address given was not found to be true and in such cases, the person cannot be deported. There are occasions when Bangladeshi nationals are forcibly pushed back but they return thereafter by taking advantage of the porous international border.
Sources said that to deal with these problems, the Government has decided to chalk out a comprehensive strategy and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is working on it. The MHA is also taking the help of non-government organisations and experts in the field while trying to formulate the plan, sources added.
Sources said there had been some talks about de-franchising the persons detected as foreigners. Such an action would reduce the political patronage received by the suspected foreign nationals. But in such a case also, a detailed plan would have to be worked out as to how the process would be carried out and who would be the authority to do so. Such a move cannot be carried out haphazardly without formulating a proper plan of action, sources admitted. It may be mentioned here that way back in 1998, the then Governor of Assam Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha had stressed the need for de-franchising the persons detected as foreigners.
Only after a proper plan is chalked out, the Government of India can take up the issue with the Government of Bangladesh. Over the years, the issue was discussed with Bangladesh but as no plan of action was chalked out. India could not take up the issue forcefully. Moreover, majority of Bangladeshi nationals come to India in search of livelihood and only later, they are given patronage by political parties and organizations. Economic development of Bangladesh is also necessary for checking the trend, sources added.
Sources revealed that now that the international border with Bangladesh is properly demarcated, the Government of India has directed the concerned agencies to expedite the process of completing the fencing, while, the damaged portions of the fencing would also be replaced as soon as possible. The Government has also asked the concerned state governments to increase the number of police stations in the areas near the international border.
The Government is also examining the feasibility of preventing foreigners from acquiring land and that is why, the issue of granting ST status to six communities of Assam is now viewed from the security point of view as such a move would protect land holdings of the persons belonging to the communities.