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Report No. 175

3. Situational Review

3.1 The migration of people from one place to another has been an ongoing phenomenon since the dawn of civilization. India, being an ancient civilization, accepted new races and new people at various stages of history. Even the invaders made India their home and got submerged in the Indian society. Different people and different races lived together in peace and harmony for ages. The turmoil, however, began with 'the entry of the British, initially as traders and later on with their acquisition of political power in India.

3.1.1 The British needed cheap labour for their plantations and industrial establishments not only in India but in other parts of the world under their political authority. This they ensured through inter-country and intra-country migration of labour. It is on record that since 1920, they moved people to serve as labourers from eastern region of Bengal to Assam for developing their tea industries. Later, the political divide of the people on the basis of religion which ultimately led to the Partition of the country resulted into the largest ever migratory movement in the world history; India had to absorb the bulk of the migrants.

3.1.2. Partition was not the only event that resulted in large scale migration of population. Persecution of various sections of the people in the newly created State of Pakistan also resulted in the flow of people into India. Even after the formation of Bangladesh in 1971, the migration of people from the new State continued to the bordering states of India.

3.1.3 Infiltration also took place in 1948 from across the border into Jammu and Kashmir following the armed attack by Pakistan in the guise of 'raiders'. The developments in Tibet also resulted in exodus of a large number of people from Tibet and their migration to this country. A number of other events also led to the exodus of people from other countries to India, e, g., the Chinese aggression against India in 1962; the second attack by Pakistan in 1965; the insurgency in Sri Lanka resulting in migration of a large number of Sri Lankan Tamils to Tamil Nadu; the coming of many Afghans to India after the takeover of Afghanistan by Taliban and, recently, the infiltration into Kargil. These events, in varying degrees, have been responsible for entry into India of foreigners as refugees and D. i11ega1 migrants.

3.2 Since the liberation of erstwhile East Pakistan, the influx of migrants from Bangladesh has remained unabated and has acquired frightening proportions. There is no realistic estimate of these migrants in India. In fact, no census has been carried out to determine their number. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the total number of Bangladeshis illegally residing in India is estimated at 15 to 18 million and every year at least 3.5 lac or more people are infiltrating into the country.

3.2.1 on the basis of theoretical extrapolations the number of illegal migrants in border states has been estimated to be 5.4 million in west Bengal, 4 million in Assam, and 0.8 million in Tripura. It is evident that the number of such migrants is highest in the State of west Bengal. These migrants have spread out to other parts of the country. In Maharashtra, their number is estimated at 0.6 million, in Rajasthan, 0.5 million and, in Delhi. 0.3 million. These figures are mindboggling and alarming indeed; India with its own unmanageable population is hardly in a possession to take upon this additional burden.

3.3 It was agreed by the Government of India, as a matter of policy, that the Bangladeshis who entered India before 25 March 1971 would ultimately become Indian citizens (Indira-Mujib Agreement 1974 and the Assam Accord 1985). But all those who came on or after that date without valid travel documents or without lawful authority or overstayed after validly entering into India would be considered illegal migrants.

3.3.1 The number of Bangladeshis who entered India with valid travel documents and overstayed is also fairly large, for example. 10,24,322 Bangladeshis, who entered the State of west Bengal since 1972, have overstayed. The number of those intercepted at the border while crossing illegally into west, Bengal during 1912-98 is 5,73,334. The all India figures are much higher.

The Foreigners (Amendment) Bill, 2000 Back

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