According to various non-governmental sources, the number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to India is to the tune of 5 crores (50 million) which is more than the total population in the countries like Ireland, New Zealand, Liberia etc! There were lots of news reports about how do they get Indian passport and identity cards with the help of many political parties who later use them as vote bank.
Yesterday during a function at neighbourhood, I had an interaction with few local friends among which two guys were members of political parties.
The congress party worker said: “Indian culture is based on the concept of ‘Aditi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is akin to god). We should be broad-minded enough to accept those Bangladeshi refugees…”
I told him: “Yes, India always has welcomed refugees from time immemorial and provided them shelter. It’s our tradition and culture. It is out of empathy and sympathy or love and care. That doesn’t mean we have to accept illegal immigrants. The definition of Refugee is those flee violence and persecution in their homeland. The Bangladeshi illegal immigrants are NOT facing any religious/racial persecution in their homeland.”
“Uday, we should remember, there are thousands of Indians working in the Middle East countries. If we send those Bangladeshi immigrants back, the entire Middle East would get angry. We won’t have moral rights to plead them when they start sending Indians back…” he told.
“It’s a very funny argument. How’s both related? Why should the Middle East countries get upset if India protects her boarder? Indians enter in the Middle East legally. They go there with Indian passport and proper visa or work permit. There are millions of Indian working abroad. Those countries provide Indians the needy work permits. But Indians will NEVER have voting right or citizenship right in the Middle East. You can’t find any Indians abroad entered without passport. So you cannot compare Indian immigrants with those illegals and criminals coming from Bangladesh,” I replied.
The Marxist party supporter said: “The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is playing cheap communal politics. Bangladeshi illegal migrants are Muslims…that’s why BJP is against them…”
“No political party in India can claim the ‘holier-than-thou’. The Marxists appease Muslims and the BJP appease Hindus. Statistically speaking BJP gets more Muslims votes than the Marxists in India. While Marxists were in power in the state, they helped illegal migrants in the West Bengal. Mamata Banerji was against it then. Now that she needs the vote bank, she is supporting them. ALL political parties would do the same for getting votes. Every political party plays game with this and do not ponder into depth of the problems.”
“Uday, don’t you know, there were refugees from Tibet, Pakistan, Afganisthan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh – India accepted them. Why? All of them were non-Muslims. ”
“This is how you Marxists communalize a genuine issue. This is exactly what the religious fundamentalists need. This is how newspapers spread venom (See Gulf News) of communal hatred. International media always waits for an opportunity to tarnish India’s secular image. Sensible Indian Muslims won’t buy your arguments. Any educated Muslim can tell you that India is the only country in the world where Muslims enjoy absolute freedom.”
Yes, there is a religious angle to this. 99% of the illegal migrants are Muslims. So, those who need to appease Muslims support them, where as those who needs to appease Hindus stand against them. This is NOT the right way. All Indians should consider India first.
“My apologies. But let me reiterate – India has accepted Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from our neighboring countries. Then why can’t we accept Muslims?”
“Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are self-declared Muslim countries. We know there was a huge population of Hindus (nearly one fourth of total) in Pakistan before independence which now is shrunk to 1.8%. It is a normal thing for Islamic militants to persecute non-Muslims. So the non-Muslims flee from those countries and came here as refugees. India accepted them.”
“Hmmm. But there is a wide-spread biased against Muslims intentionally created by some political parties,”he said and kept mum.
Then it was the turn of the Hindu guy. He asked: “Intentionally? Truth is that alarming increase of Muslim population is a threat. Another Kashmir could happen in those states. See, what happens in Kerala – Muslim League controls the opposition UDF and the Islamic fundamentalist organization SDPY controls LDF.”
“There are some political adjustments, but that is not entirely true. As part of appeasement strategy, they may have a say in those political alliances. And even if it is true, how can we generalise and blame the majority innocent followers of Islam for this?” I asked.
“You don’t have courage to talk about Islamic threat in India. Do you know the media would carry news only if a Muslim is the victim? They wouldn’t telecast any news when the accused is Muslim,” he said.
“Friend, facts are sacred for me. Are you crazy to think Good Muslims in India will support fundamentalists or illegal migrants just because they carry an Islamic tag? They are threat to Indian Muslims too. There are fanatics in that religion. Our duty is to educate them. Media needs advertisements to survive – so it cannot be neutral. There are culprits in every religion. This is not a secular statement – I don’t have to be diplomatic as I don’t need anything from anybody.”
“Uday, is there any practical way to handle this illegal migrant issue? We can’t deport them back to Bangladesh. What’s your opinion?” this was a question from a walk friend. Many readers in the WhatsApp Broadcast list asked similar question. Every Indian is now worried about the illegal immigrants.
“Indian resources are for Indians. All Indian citizens – irrespective of caste, creed and religion – should be treated equal. Bangladeshi’s are welcome to come to India, but with a passport in their hand. India may provide work permit to those immigrants. But we don’t have to award them citizenship and voting rights until and unless they become legal.”
Credit: Udaylal Pai