Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday rejected Rajasthan Chief Minister’s charge on the issue of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, saying Vasundhara Raje’s utterances only exposed her “weakness” in tackling terrorism.

“Perhaps she [Ms. Raje] is shaken after the recent blasts and is saying anything that is not true. She should have avoided it [making the statement]. She has just exposed her weakness,” Home Minister Shivraj Patil told NDTV.

Commenting on her statement that the State government had been asked by the Union Home Ministry to detect illegal Bangladeshi migrants and put them in a transit camp, Mr. Patil said: “That is not possible. Our country is not a monarchy. It is a democracy.”

The Home Minister said Ms. Raje was making one statement after another. “Why she is making such statements, I do not know,” he said, adding that “we are not happy with her behaviour.”

On Saturday, Mr. Patil had sought to play down differences between the Centre and the Rajasthan government, asking the BJP-ruled State to refrain from making public certain aspects of the Jaipur serial blasts.

“Issues which are not pertinent need not be raised now. They were raised in the past. They can be raised in the future. At this time, they are better avoided,” he had said in the statement.

“At this point of time, nothing should be done which would create obstacles and misunderstanding and is unhelpful in the task of investigating agencies,” he said.

Sources in the Home Ministry pointed out that meetings with the Chief Ministers have been held on internal security and communications from the Centre in the past have only drawn the attention of the State governments to the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946 relating to the process of detection and deportation of illegal migrants.

The sources said there was no specific letter from the Home Ministry to the Rajasthan government in last June asking it to put illegal Bangladeshi migrants in “transit camps.”

“Centre mooted camps”

PTI reports:

Earlier, Ms. Raje said the State government had written numerous letters to the Centre from time to time on the deportation of Bangladeshi nationals who were finding their way into Rajasthan.

“We wrote to them in June 2007 to say, look we need to do something about this. We got a reply back from them [the Centre] saying, well why don’t you just collect them and put them into a transit camp somewhere,” Ms. Raje told NDTV.

She said such a suggestion was received from the Home Ministry. Asked whether the Home Ministry had formally written to the State government to “round up” illegal Bangladeshis, she said, “Yes ... kindly round them up and put them in a transit camp, which you pay for.”

The Chief Minister admitted that it was something like asking the State to “set up its own Guantanamo Bay [where the U.S. security agencies keep terror suspects].”

“Politicising blasts”

New Delhi Special Correspondent reports:

The Congress said the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants should be addressed according to the law of the land, and charged Ms. Raje with politicising it.

“Instead of providing the healing touch to bomb blast victims and concentrating on the aftermath, the Chief Minister is politicising the blasts for electoral gains,” said Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan.

Ms. Natarajan said while no country would encourage illegal immigration, the Foreigners Act should be applied to the issue. She wanted the State government to be careful in handling the situation so that certain sections were not “terrorised or harassed.”