The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani sticks to migrant pushback call

New Delhi, Feb. 16: A day after the Prime Minister told the visiting Bangladesh foreign minister, Mohammed Morshed Khan, that bilateral relations would improve only if Dhaka took care of Delhi’s security concerns, his deputy raised the pitch by categorically stating illegal immigrants had to be deported “firmly but lawfully”.

Without naming Bangladesh, deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said “illegal migration” from a neighbouring country to India had increased recently.

“A large number of people have come here for various reasons. There are colonies of such people in various parts of the country,” he said, addressing Delhi police personnel today.

Advani alleged that the “foreigners” were living here as Indians and may have procured ration cards and got their names enrolled on the voters’ list. In a clear message that the Centre meant business, he said: “They have to be sent back and it is the responsibility of the police in all states to do it honestly, lawfully but firmly.”

The deputy Prime Minister said the problem of illegal immigration was the main subject of discussion at a recent conference of chief ministers and chief secretaries.

Advani admitted that the country’s borders (with Bangladesh) were such that infiltration was possible even if these were manned by security forces.

Security anxieties apart, the decision to revive the issue of Bangladeshi migrants was taken up by the RSS leadership.

Taking its cue from the RSS, the BJP began propagating the issue at various levels, keeping the next round of elections in mind.

The Delhi BJP even proposed that the immigration issue be developed into one of the main planks for the November Assembly polls.

Way back in 1993, the issue had worked to the party’s advantage when Delhi was the only state in the Hindi belt that the BJP could salvage after a rout in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

That victory was attributed largely to former Delhi chief minister Madan Lal Khurana’s articulation of the “Bangladeshi” problem.

The RSS and the BJP have planned to situate the migration issue more in the context of security than economics by playing on popular fears of the “illegal immigrants” being “responsible” for the increase in crime in Delhi and Bangladesh becoming the new hotbed of ISI activities.

At today’s meeting, the deputy Prime Minister referred to Pakistan-inspired terrorism and said it heightened security concerns during important occasions such as Republic Day, Independence Day, Diwali, Dussehra and Id.

“There are concerns that Pakistan-inspired terrorism might take advantage of these festivities to create terror as intelligence agencies are regularly suggesting such possibilities,” Advani said.

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