The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha wakes up, puts foot down on infiltration

Calcutta, July 10: Bengal’s ruling Left agrees with the BJP-led Union government on the need for firm action to check infiltration, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today.

The chief minister told the Assembly that the situation on the Bangladesh border called for the toughest of measures as waves of infiltrators were causing tension in the socio-political structure.

“Our government can no longer tolerate infiltration across the border which has reached alarming proportions. Enough is enough, this can’t go on any longer,” he said, replying to a debate on the Rs 1,286-crore police budget. “We, in the government, support the policy of the Centre in dealing sternly with illegal entrants from Bangladesh and the action taken from time to time by the BSF in pushing back these infiltrators.”

Bhattacharjee’s comments come on the heels of his meeting last week with deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani in Calcutta. They discussed infiltration and the attendant subversive activities that were affecting the country’s economy and security.

Advani, who shares a warm relationship with Bhattacharjee, feels strongly about infiltration and has been calling for a tough campaign to end it.

His party, the BJP — an ally of Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamul Congress — has been seeking to set up bases in the border districts where there have been sharp demographic changes.

Listing steps taken to prevent infiltration across the state’s 2,216-km border, the chief minister said issue of ration cards at block levels in border districts has been stopped. “No ration card will be issued without permission from the district magistrate.”

The Bengal government has also agreed to the Centre’s proposal to introduce identity cards for citizens in the border areas. A pilot project would shortly be started at Lalbagh and Jiagunj in Murshidabad district. “We feel that introduction of identity cards in the border areas will help prevent infiltration.” Bhattacharjee said work was on to complete barbed-wire fencing and the border roads network.

He criticised what he described as the “painful” role of the BSF, blaming corruption of a section of the force, inadequate securitymen and the enormity of the task of border policing for the growing infiltration.

“It is mainly the duty of the BSF to control infiltration across the border but in many cases it is unable to do it. The number of BSF battalions at the border falls short of the sanctioned strength, making it extremely difficult for it to effectively guard the porous border.”

That the state government is attaching utmost importance to the problem of infiltration was also evident from Bhattacharjee’s speech where he mentioned the recent attempt by Bangladesh to push in about 200 snake charmers — all Bangladeshi nationals — into India on the plea that they were Indians.

“Though the move was foiled by a determined BSF, it was apparent that Bangladesh was making a futile bid to establish, for the first time, that there is large-scale infiltration of Indian nationals into Bangladesh,” he said.

There is thus need for much greater vigilance on our part,” the chief minister said.

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