The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Shinde picks on immigrants

Mumbai, March 11: Maharashtra chief minister Sushil Kumar Shinde is getting into a habit of talking things BJP.

A day after he announced that there were some great things about Veer Savarkar — the small issue of installing his portrait in the Central Hall of the Assembly apart — Shinde today picked another issue close to the BJP’s heart: action against illegal migrants.

On Monday, Shinde had said he was not against Savarkar or what he stood for. Reminding the Opposition of a recent interview, Shinde said he had spoken at length about the need to propagate the RSS leader’s theory on “sarvadharma sambhava”.

Today, during question hour in the Assembly, the chief minister said Maharashtra would not tolerate foreign nationals staying on illegally in the state.

“We will initiate appropriate action against people who have been living here illegally,” Shinde said. A committee to probe the whereabouts of such migrants would be set up, he added.

Though Shinde did not name migrants from any particular country, it was obvious the investigations would target Bangladeshis, a large number of whom are believed to have made Mumbai their home.

Government sources said the probe would try to ascertain how the illegal immigrants got ration cards and enrolled themselves on Maharashtra’s voting lists.

Shinde was reacting to demands from the Opposition Shiv Sena-BJP combine, who had been asking why no action was being taken against the migrants.

Throwing out Bangladeshi migrants has been one of the Sena’s consistent demands and promises — depending on whether they were ruling the state or were in the Opposition.

Beaten at their own game, the BJP-Sena leaders could only stage a walkout. They said the government’s conviction was suspect and that it had failed to give a “satisfactory” reply on the fate of illegal immigrants.

Led by the Sena’s Dagdu Sapkal, the Opposition said the growing number of migrants had the potential to turn the state’s social and civic order upside down.

But Shinde went one up on the Sena-BJP.

“The government is very rigid as far as foreigners staying unauthorisedly in the city is concerned,” he said, adding that he had already demanded simplification of the deportation Act at a national convention on internal security.

“Why do you think we sought a simplification' It is to help us deport all foreigners staying here illegally. In fact, we have only recently sent a letter to the Union Government reminding them of our earlier demand,” Shinde said.

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