Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Illegals: Mumbai's Bangladeshis: India News

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    According to Ramesh Bagwe, Minister of State for Home, their number in Maharashtra [ Images ] could be 3.5 lakh but when he talked to the media last week, he did not explain how this number was arrived at. There never has been a survey to determine that.
    • Then there is the number put out by Kirit Somaiya, former MP known for being a number cruncher, there are as many as 16 lakh in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, ten lakh of lakh of them within Mumbai municipal limits.

    • Once here, they pretend to be from West Bengal and claim to be domestic migrants so to say and assert their right to live here. The truth is that Maharashtra officials when asked to deport them find it hard to distinguish them from Bangladeshis though there are nuances which differentiate one from the other.

    • Why are the numbers so big now? There are several reasons.

      One reason is that when, especially after the 1992-93 riots the exercise of locating and deporting them, especially from Mumbai continued, civil society protested. The protests were on the 'secular' platform, the logic being that since most were Muslims, they ought not to be sent packing. The argument was not that they were poor so one needed to be nice to them. The point missed was that even if on that count, they needed to come as refugees, not by stealth and pretend to be Indian citizens.

    • Mahesh Vijapurkar is a senior journalist and commentator

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