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News ::
India to Deport 20 Million Bangladeshis (english)
09 Jan 2003
India to Deport 20 Million Bangladeshis this Year
India will launch a drive this year to deport more than 20 million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants considered to pose a "security threat", the home ministry said on Tuesday.

The decision was taken at an internal security meeting of state police chiefs, senior state bureaucrats and federal security officials who agreed to conduct the drive between April and June. It will also target about 11,500 illegal Pakistanis.

"The presence of a large number of illegal foreign immigrants, particularly from Bangladesh, poses a serious threat to the internal security and needs to be tackled with utmost urgency and seriousness that it deserves," a statement from the ministry said.

"The rough estimates indicate that there are over 20 million illegal Bangladeshi immigrants residing in the country of whom above 10 million are in Assam and West Bengal alone," it added.

The meeting agreed "that the states would launch a special drive to detect and deport such foreign nationals during the period April-June 2003".

The ministry statement did not elaborate on the "security threat" posed by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Indian security agencies have in the past accused illegal Bangladeshi immigrants -- most of whom are Muslims -- of committing crimes, and say some of them work for Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency.

A Bangladeshi foreign ministry official in Dhaka said Bangladesh was not aware of the Indian decision and refused to comment further.

Indian Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, who inaugurated the one-day security meeting, said New Delhi would delegate federal powers to state administrations to deport illegal foreign nationals.

There is no reason why our states should be soft on them. Immediate steps should be taken to identify them, locate them and throw them out," Advani said.

The meeting also agreed to issue national identification cards that would help detect illegal immigrants.

A project to test the scheme would be launched this year in selected districts of 13 states, home secretary N. Gopalaswami told a news conference.

He said New Delhi wanted state governments to strengthen intelligence gathering to counter terrorism, insurgencies and left-wing extremism across the country. A lack of advance information about attacks by such groups was a major threat to m internal security, he said.

Millions of Bangladeshis have migrated in search of work to India, where they are typically employed as domestic servants, rickshaw-pullers and labourers.
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