Seventy-one Bangladeshi nationals were arrested in the State in the last two years, many of them carrying forged documents identifying themselves as Indians. In the last eight months, 32 illegal immigrants were arrested from around Kochi alone.
A report by the Intelligence wing of the police, accessed by The Hindu, expressed concern over the influx of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants into Kerala, especially considering the threat of cross-border terrorism and the spread of fake Indian currency.
The National Investigation Agency has found links with Pakistan in rackets engaged in printing and smuggling fake currency into India. NIA sources said fake currency was now being smuggled into India through its porous border with Bangladesh. Malda district in West Bengal is a key transit point for counterfeiters, sources said.
Intelligence Additional Director General of Police T.P. Senkumar said cases of Bangladeshi immigrants carrying large sums of fake currency had not been detected in Kerala. “In a few instances, they were found to be carrying very small sums of fake currency,” he said.
“The border with Bangladesh has gaps at some points and immigrants cross into India on foot through the breaks in the fence. Some also swim across rivers on the border to reach India,” Mr. Senkumar told The Hindu .
Once they reach India, immigrants obtain fake documents through local agents. Sources said political leaders in parts of West Bengal were also involved in endorsing fake documents such as ration cards for illegal immigrants.
The Eloor police held 11 immigrants from Bangladesh in April this year. They had been living in the State for around five years and were making a living selling scrap materials.
“Two of them carried election identity cards with addresses in West Bengal. We have informed the Election Commission to confirm if these are fake,” said Sub-Inspector Suresh of Eloor police station.
He said the immigrants had come in different batches and drifted from place to place in search of employment. They had found a safe haven in Kochi where they mingled with the migrant population from North India and found jobs.
SI Suresh said some of the illegal immigrants had confessed to bribing soldiers posted at the border to slip across to India. Fake identity cards are made available at as little as Rs.300 by forgers and agents.
A police officer from Kaduthuruthy in Kottayam, where 10 Bangladeshi immigrants were arrested in April 2012, said the immigrants paid the agents who helped them cross the border even after they reached India.
“Some of the illegal immigrants, who are mostly in their 20s, swim across a river at the border to cross into India. They said a 15-minute swim would take them from Bangladesh to India at some parts of the river. These people pay their agents a small sum before they come here. Once they reach India, they have to pay a part of their wages to the agent. The money is either sent with a fellow countryman or through bank accounts,” he said. Three cases under the Registration of Foreigners Act were registered in the State as of March 2013 and 32 cases were registered under the Indian Passport Act.
Twenty-one cases under the Registration of Foreigners Act were registered last year.