Shillong, Oct. 17: More than 6,000 Bangladeshis were detected in Meghalaya last year, an increase of nearly 4,000 from 2011.
According to official statistics, in the past five years (2008 to September 2013), 18,951 Bangladeshis were “detected” in the state.
While 978 were “prosecuted”, and the remaining 17,973 were “pushed back” (see chart).
From 2008 to 2011, the figures ranged between 1,500 and 3,200.
However, in 2012, the figures shot up to 6,182, and till September this year, 3,163 more were detected.
According to the annual report of the Union ministry of home affairs for the year 2012-13, the Indian side of the Indo-Bangla border passes through West Bengal (2,216.7km), Assam (263km), Meghalaya (443km), Tripura (856km) and Mizoram (318km).
The entire stretch consists of plains, riverine belts, hills and jungles. The area is heavily populated and cultivated right upto the border.
“The India-Bangladesh border is marked by a high degree of porosity and checking illegal cross-border activities have been a major challenge. The main problem is of illegal migration from Bangladesh into India,” the report stated.
In the recent past, the BSF apprehended a number of alleged Bangladeshi infiltrators while they were trying to cross over to the neighbouring country.
Most of the apprehended infiltrators supposedly claimed that they were on their way to Bangladesh from the coal mining areas of Meghalaya.
The state has abundant mineral resources, particularly coal and limestone, and these are mostly embedded in areas lying within East Jaintia Hills, East Garo Hills and South Garo Hills districts.
In order to prevent illegal immigration and other anti-national activities from across the border, the Centre had sanctioned the construction of border roads and fencing in two phases.
The total length of India-Bangladesh border sanctioned to be fenced is 3,359.59km; of this, 2,762.11km of fencing has been completed (upto December 31, 2012), the report said.
However, it pointed out that there have been some problems in construction of fence in certain stretches on this border because of riverine/low-lying areas, population residing within 150 yards of the border, pending land acquisition cases and protests by border population.
These have led to delay in completion of the project.
In addition to the fencing, 3,585.53km of border roads have also been constructed out of a sanctioned length of 4,407.11km.
In Meghalaya, the first phase of border fencing, covering 198.06km has been completed while in the second phase, covering 264.17km, only 129.07km have been completed.
For border roads, 211.29km have been constructed under the first phase while only 152.24km of 320km have been completed in the second phase.
The Northeast, particularly the states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura, has repeatedly been raising a clamour against alleged infiltration from Bangladesh.
As of today, an uneasy calm prevails in Meghalaya as pressure groups and the government have been at loggerheads over the inner-line permit (ILP) issue.
While the groups are pressing for the implementation of the ILP to check influx and illegal immigration into the state, the government has put its foot down and has suggested other mechanisms like the proposed Meghalaya Regulation of Landlords and Verification of Tenants Bill.