BANGALORE: The number of illegal Bangaldeshi immigrants in Bangalore is about 5,000, and not 28,000 as claimed by a municipal councillor, police say.
HAL police arrested 75 Bangaldeshi nationals last month. The illegal immigrants first arrived in Delhi, and found their way to Bangalore, they said.
Illegal Bangladeshi immigrants work as rag pickers for the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) or deal in scrap, police told Express. A team led by inspector Ashwath Narayana searched two neighbourhoods recently: Munekolalu at Marathalli.
“We found 49 adult Bangladeshis, including 19 women. We also came across 26 children below 10 years. Eight boys and three girls were sent to Balamandir. The rest are in judicial custody,” he said. He puts the number of Bangladeshis in Bangalore at 5,000. “NGOs are keen to help send them back safely,” he said.
The immigrants are extremely poor and come looking for a livelihood. “They say in their country, they face floods and famines and find no work,” said ACP S H Duggappa.
He described their conditions as terrible. “We had to give them food and send them to judicial custody. Once we get a court order, we will deport them,” he explained.
He said the number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants floated by individuals and the media are exaggerated.
Police have no records to indicate the immigrants were indulging in crime, he said.
Kamal Pant, Additional Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, said, the actual numbers of illegal immigrants were indicated by a recent census. “If anyone has diffent data, let them bring it to the police,” he said.
N R Ramesh, municipal councillor from Yediur, who had claimed 28,000 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants had made their way to Bangalore, said a friend documenting social issues had brought this to his notice.
“We decided to go to places like Jakkasandra, Kundalahalli, Devarabisanahalli, and saw the sheds in which they were living,” he said.
Some manage to get voter ID and Aadhaar cards, depriving Indians of their rightful benefits from government schemes, Ramesh said.
Echoing his sentiments, Sudhir Shetty of the Bangalore District Photo Studio Owners’ Association, said, “I had done some shoots in Jakkasandra three years ago. When I visited the area recently, I noticed that one colony had increased to eight.”
He said he was worried about their health, sanitation, and also the possibility of vote bank politics, and so was keen to bring it to the notice of the government.
Shetty says he recorded conversations of the illegal immigrants. “One of them said that they moved in huge numbers to India. In Bangalore alone, he said there could be close to 20,000 of his fellow-countrymen,” he said.
Warning to Scrap Marts
Sounding a warning to scrap marts and other employers, Duggappa said, “If you hide any information about illegal immigrants or employ them, we will take serious action against you.”
Police say many illegal immigrants are employed by the BBMP on contract as rag pickers.
Salim Khurshid, who hails from West Bengal, said, “When the police came and checked, we showed them our identity cards. They took away whoever could not prove their identity. Some Bangladeshis got to know about the crackdown in advance and left.”