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Bangladeshi infiltration: Threat to costal security
Orissa has one of the largest coastlines, stretching over 480 kms along the Bay of Bengal. But, as regards the security measures taken to plug any illegal and terror related influx from outside, there are still many question marks.
ORISSA HAS one of the largest coastlines, stretching over 480 kms along the Bay of Bengal. But, as regards the security measures taken to plug any illegal and terror related influx from outside, there are still many question marks.
 
Right from the ITR Chandipur, near Balasore, Wheeler Island close to the Dhamra port (which comprise of several defence-related establishments of utmost importance) and other strategic points like Paradeep Port, etc are not adequately secure. On Several occasions, in the past, fishing vessels from Myamar, Thailand and most frequently from Bangladesh had been seized by the forest authorities or the coast guard.
 
The coast passing along Kendrapara springs several surprises, as the illegal influx of Bangladeshis continue. Today, areas like Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur coast have become mini-Bangladesh as the migrant population keeps ballooning every year.
 
The influx of Bangladeshi immigrants in the coastal patches along the Mahanadi deltaic region, which possesses the country’s second largest mangrove cover, has started since the seventies and it has posed a serious problem to the local administrations in Kendrapara. Under the shadows of the political parties, these intruders have apparently bolstered their own fate in the alien land at the cost of the locals and destroying the region’s fragile eco-system. They have also turned these areas into a safe haven for illegal activities.
 
The Bangladeshi infiltrators manage to intrude in the coastal Kendrapara district, every year, during in the month of May - September in order to settle in the dollar spinning prawn business near the coasts. Some also come to their relatives’ houses, who have settled in the coastal districts, to help their relatives in prawn farming. During the month of September, some of the Bangladeshi immigrants manage to return to their country   after harvesting prawns and some illegally manage to settle permanently in the coastal pockets of Rajnagar and Mahakalpada blocks.  
 
According to official sources, the Bangladeshi immigrants have infiltrated into the coastal Kendrapara district in two phases. The influx of Bangladeshi nationals had started in the year 1947 during the partition of Bangladesh and it became more pronounced after the Bangladeshi Liberation War in 1971 and has been rapidly rising since then. The maximum chunk of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and the illegal settlement has gone unabated since the eighties, as these people had taken the sea route to reach in these areas and settle here.
 
In the year 1956, nearly 1250 Bangla immigrants were rehabilitated as registered refugees and resettled in the coastal pockets of Rajnagar assembly constituency. During the 1980s, the number of immigrants was only 20,000 but now their number is more than 60,000, said a septuagenarian registered refugee, Nepali Sarkar, of Tubi.
 
Most of the Bangla immigrants have been coming from the district of Jashore, Khulna, Barishal and Faridpur districts of Bangladesh.
 
The Bangladeshi intruded into Kendrapara and they took the sea-route to land here. All the illegal immigrants concealed their nationality and posed themselves as owing their origin from Midnapur in West Bengal. With the immigrants bearing the striking similarity in physical appearance and mother tongue with that of the locals, who have migrated from West Bengal, had settled in the coastal pockets of Rajnagar, Mahakalpada and Pattamundai block, official sources stated.
 
The villages, where illegal settlement of Bangladeshi were residing, are identified as   Dangamal, Talachua, Rangani, Gupti, Bhitarkanika, Gahirmatha, Benakanda, Ramanagar, Jamboo, Kharnashi, Batighar., Pitapat, Kulapatia, Barajabahakuda, Ahirajpur, Vecta, amarabati, manjulapalli, Daityaprasad, Bahakud, Rajapatana, Birabhanjapur, Bhanjaprasad,Tiakyatnagar, Krushnanagar, Rajendranagar, Uddyana,   kanakanagar, Kalatunga and Guladia. In these villages more than 70 per cent Bangla infiltrators are now unauthorised residents.
 
While areas like Chandballi, Rajnagar, Jamboo, Ramnagar, Kharinasi, Batighar, Mahakalpada, have turned into hub for intruders from across the border, political coupled with administrative support is said to have given boost to unsavory trend of infiltration. Locals alleged that with the infiltrators getting the political patronage, their unlawful stay was legalised over the years with sizeable number of them availing ration cards, voter’s identity card and BPL cards and allegedly enjoyed government benefits.
 
These Bangla infiltrators, destroying the mangrove cover in the coastal belt, have turned it either to some home-stead land or paddy fields as a result the illegal immigrants seemingly invited ecological disaster to the area. Massive prawn farming operation by them also brought about environmental degradation in several ways, alleged locals.
 
About 60 clusters of hamlets inhabit in the fringes of Bhitarkanika National Park and several villages have developed illegally within the sanctuary limits in the last half a decade by   decimating mangroves. These areas are yet to be notifies as reserve forest area, adding to the complexities of protecting the unique mangrove forest, said forest officials of Rajnagar Mangrove forest.
 
The Bangladeshi infiltrators have also created the Bhitarkanika National park area into a safe haven for their criminal activities.
 
The local police had arrested some Bangladeshi immigrants in the year 2004 from Mahakalpada area on the alleged charge of circulating counterfeit currency notes of Rs 100 and Rs 500 denomination in Jamboo, Kharanashi, Talachua , Dangamal and Rangani areas. The local police had seized counterfeit currency notes and some printing machinery, etc, which were used for the making of counterfeit currency notes.  
 
In 2001, the Rajnagar police had also unearthed six illegal radio stations, which operated in the sea-side hamlets of Rajnagar block .Local police had arrested one Bakuram Dey, on the alleged charge of operating the fake radio stations.
 
According to police, the radio stations, which were unearthed by the police, were established at Balabhadrapur, Baradia, Kuitkulla, Dushigaon, Odasahi and Dhamara village by the Bangladeshi immigrants. Through this radio station, the Bangla infiltrators   had allegedly sent some valuable information about defence to their country.
 
Several cases of temple burglary and idol thefts in Rajnagar block were committed by these Bangladeshi infiltrators. Police also arrested about dozen Bangla immigrants on the alleged charge of selling the idols in the adjoining areas of Rajnagar, informed sources in the police department.
 
Every now and then, these Bangla infiltrators commit wildlife crimes. In last five years, the local police and forest officials arrested more than 40 Bangla immigrants on the alleged charges of poaching more than 45 endangered migratory bird species, 15 deer, six boars and a dozen of Olive Ridley sea turtles. The police have also seized antlers, hide and raw venison from their possession during the raids, informed police sources.    
 
These Bangla immigrants are also involved in luring the gullible girls to West Bengal and outside the district with ulterior motives and later engaged them in the flesh trade or immoral trafficking. Some even lured the girls by giving false assurance of attractive marriage and job offers. The poverty stricken parents easily fall prey to such offers and the girls ended up in the flesh trade, informed police sources.
 
More than 2,000 cases have been registered in the local courts regarding the problems of Bangladeshi immigrants and about 60-70 percent case’s decision are going against the state government
 
Even after three years of the state government serving Quit India notice under the Foreigners’ Act, 1948, to at least 1551 Bangladeshi immigrants, who had come to the seaside villages after December 16, 1971, and have been residing in the coastal pockets of Mahakalpada block, but the deportation drive of 1551 Bangladeshi immigrants is yet to start.
 
The state government is sitting silent on the deportation drive of the Bangladeshi immigrants allegedly by encouraging them to reside illegally in the coastal patches and spreading crimes in the areas. Locals alleged that more than 3000 Bangla immigrants have allegedly infiltrated to the coastal pockets and they were residing in Kajalapatia, Batighar, Bahakuda,Kharanashi and Pitapata after the district administration served Quit India notice, on January 15, 2005.
 
The apparent intention is that sizeable section from this particular community may turn into the vote-bank in the coming general polls .The state government does not want to deport Bangladeshi immigrants, as the Bangladeshis immigrants have proved to be a major vote bank for the local political leaders, who tasted victory in the past. With much political interests at stake, the state government has either ignored the issue or launched steps detrimental to infiltrators’ interest haphazardly, alleged Ranjan Sahu, a local resident.
 
It seems the state government might have dragged its feet over the deportation subject without taking up the matter further, for which the final report for deportation of the Bangla immigrants is lying idle on the state government’s table, according to official sources.
 
To corroborate the point, the locals reiterate that a mere two thousand odd members of the community have been identified till date even though not less than 40,000 illegal immigrants are firmly ensconced in these parts. The Bhitarkanika National Park is the country’s only wildlife sanctuary where such immense population pressure is rising day by day. As senior state government officials from this part informed the dictate from the higher-ups in the past years had slowed down the move on this sensitive issue.
 
A drive to detect these foreign nationals was undertaken, in 2003, for the last time and since then the joint exercise by police and revenue staff of the district administration is yet to happen, the locals alleged.
 
The Coast Guard personals have recently enhanced vigil in the sea route of Bay of Bengal keeping in view on the basis of threat perception from the sea route by Bangladeshi intruders after the terrorists, who sneaked into Mumbai via sea route and attacked Taj, Oberai hotels and Nariman house in Mumbai.
 
Two ships ‘Suchitra Krupalini’ and ‘Rama Devi’ reached Paradeep Port on first week of December from West Bengal’s Haladia Port to monitor the coastline of the state to mitigate possible threat of cross-border activities and intrusion of Bangladeshis into the coastal pockets of Mahakalapada and Rajnagar block.
 
But the role of Coast Guard is limited and the state government has yet not been able to establish essentially required 18 Costal police stations, including Paradeep and Jamboo, despite the repeated advice from the Centre.
 
Experts strongly feel that the said migrants are the baseline informers for their native perpetrators of unrest. The situation is indeed pathetic and if any outside elements design some plot, they could enjoy a walk-over, like breeze. Is anyone listening?
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