Presence of illegal immigrants in Kochi raises concern

The Ernakulam Rural police recently arrested seven Bangladesh nationals employed at a plywood factory at Kuruppampady on charges of illegal immigration.

The police said the gang had been staying at a labour camp at Ashamannur near here for the past three months. “They possessed no passports or travel documents and hence have been booked under the Passport Act and the Foreigners Act,” said K.R. Manoj, Circle Inspector, Kuruppampady.

A follow-up probe is on to trace the agent who supplied them to the employer.

According to the police, the arrests, which may appear as a one-off instance, raised serious concerns about the presence of illegal immigrants in Kerala. “There should be thousands of Bangladesh nationals among the migrant workforce here. They furtively blend with the Bengali-speaking population and there is practically no effective mechanism in place to identify them,” said a top officer with the State police.

Various attempts by the local police to keep tabs on the migrant workforce in their respective jurisdiction could not bring desired results. A project, launched in the light of the brutal murder of a 32-year-old Dalit law student in Perumbavoor, envisaged the collection of thumb impressions, names and addresses of labourers, details of employers, contact numbers and photos.

Floating population

“This will never go beyond a particular extent since they keep floating between various locations in search of better pay. It is high time we initiate some strong legislative measures, making it mandatory for the employers to verify the credibility of their workers,” the official added.

Commenting on the issue, Binoy Peter, Executive Director, Centre for Migration and Inclusive Development (CMID), pointed out that illegal immigration from Bangladesh extended up to Kerala through the migration corridor it had established with the border States of Assam and West Bengal.

“The unfavourable weather conditions coupled with acute poverty is forcing them to cross over to India. Kerala, which has the country’s highest wage rate in the unorganised sector and where the chances of regulatory interceptions are less, indeed offer them an ideal location to work and live,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 3:58:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/presence-of-illegal-immigrants-in-kochi-raises-concern/article23282264.ece

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