The district police are taking a tough stand on illegal immigrants living in the city and residents employing them without verifying their passports. A special squad to detect illegal immigrants arrested 16 men suspected to be Bangladeshi nationals from the district in the last two weeks.

While 11 persons were held from Njarackal during the squad’s inspection, one person was held from Perumbavoor, and four were detained at Aluva. All of those arrested either did not have sufficient documents to prove their nationality or were carrying forged documents. In spite of the lack of passports and other documents, all of the accused had managed to find employment in and around the city.

The onus was on the local employer to ensure that persons they hired were legally permitted to stay in the country, said S. Sateesh Bino, Superintendent of Ernakulam Rural Police. “Persons harbouring illegal immigrants can be charged under Section 14C of the Foreigners Act. We have registered some cases under the rule and will continue to do so in the coming days,” said Mr. Bino. Employers often do not check if the labourers or other workers they hire hold the necessary documents. Others knowingly employ illegal immigrants for low wages. Those employing illegal immigrants would also be held guilty of harbouring them under the law.

Bangladeshi immigrants are trafficked to Kerala by agents who help them cross into India at weak spots in the border for a few thousands of rupees. Forgers in West Bengal then provide them with fake papers necessary for the stay in India. From here, the illegal immigrants make their way to various parts of the country to find employment.

An Intelligence report on the influx of illegal immigrants into the State had noted that 71 Bangladeshi nationals had been arrested in the State in the last two years.

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