The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Nadia scanner on intruders
- Survey to identify Bangladeshis begins

Krishnagar, Feb. 12: Having been jolted out of sleep after the detection of a large number of Bangladeshis in voter lists, the Nadia administration has started a survey on its own steam to find out how many of them have infiltrated and obtained documents to prove themselves Indian citizens.

The survey targets those who crossed the border after March 1971. Those who came over before that have been granted refugee status by Government of India.

The Election Commission observers for Nadia, K.J. Rao and Amitabh Rajan, had found about 30,000 Bangladeshis on voter lists.

About a lakh names were struck off the rolls in Nadia alone, prompting the administration to order the survey.

District magistrate Rajesh Pandey said the survey began in seven blocks adjacent to the Bangladesh border last week. The entire district will be covered subsequently.

'At this stage, it is difficult to find out how many Bangladeshis have actually entered Nadia and obtained documents to prove Indian citizenship. I have informed the state government about the survey,' Pandey said.

This is the first time that a district administration in Bengal has taken the initiative to find out the number of Bangladeshis staying there.

'If such a huge number of Bangladeshis can find their way into the voter lists, there must be a larger number of them who are actually residing in Nadia illegally,' an official associated with the electoral rolls revision said.

Pandey said all political parties had lodged complaints with the administration and the election observers regarding the presence of Bangladeshis on voter lists. 'The observers took serious note of such complaints. We in the administration also found out that most of the complaints were genuine. So, we feel there is an urgent need for a headcount and action. We can't sit idle.'

About 100 officials are carrying out the survey and it would take a few months to complete the task.

'After it is through, we will send a report to the government and initiate action against the intruders under the foreigners act,' Pandey said.

Officials associated with the survey said inquiries have revealed that infiltrators adopt various means to obtain documents to make it to the voter lists. During the revision of electoral rolls, 11 headmasters of various Nadia schools were arrested for issuing certificates to Bangladeshis.

For instance, an official said, 18-year-old Deb Kumar Biswas crossed over from Bangladesh to Garapota village in 2003. He obtained admission to a local school in Class IX and left it months later and obtained a certificate from the school attesting he was a student there. The certificate doubled as proof of his age and he applied for a ration card.

District intelligence branch officials said that there have also been cases where infiltrators even managed to get Indian passports.

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