T.N. launches crackdown on Bangladeshi immigrants

Hundreds settled across the State posing ‘serious threat’ to internal security

July 13, 2021 10:44 pm | Updated 10:44 pm IST - CHENNAI

Police conducting vehicle checks at Reddychavady in Cuddalore district. In July 2021, five Bangladeshi immigrants were arrested in Reddychavadi police station limits in Cuddalore district under the provisions of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, the Foreigners’ Act and other Sections of the IPC. File photo

Police conducting vehicle checks at Reddychavady in Cuddalore district. In July 2021, five Bangladeshi immigrants were arrested in Reddychavadi police station limits in Cuddalore district under the provisions of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, the Foreigners’ Act and other Sections of the IPC. File photo

The presence of a large number of Bangladeshi immigrants in different parts of Tamil Nadu has emerged as a “serious threat” to internal security, forcing the State police to launch an intensive crackdown to weed them out.

Also read: How illegal immigrants from Bangladesh sneaked their way into Andhra Pradesh

According to police sources, thousands of Bangladeshi nationals illegally entered India through the land borders in recent years and many families moved to Tamil Nadu posing as natives of West Bengal. With the help of some agents, they not only got employment in industries but also managed to get Aadhaar cards.

Preliminary enquiries revealed that a large number of immigrants were settled in Tirupur, Chengalpattu, Erode, Cuddalore and Kancheepuram districts posing as Indians who migrated from West Bengal for the purpose of employment. Even as the industry shut and a majority of the workforce returned to their respective home States during the COVID-19 lockdown, the Bangladeshi immigrants stayed on.

Also read: Difficult to collect data of Bangladeshis living illegally: Centre

Drug peddling

“It is during this period that many of them indulged in illegal activities such as drug peddling, immoral trafficking etc. Though they do not have any valid documents, the immigrants have Aadhaar cards. It is not clear whether they furnished fake documents or availed the norm that even foreign nationals who continuously reside in India for over 182 days are entitled to get an Aadhaar card,” a senior police official told The Hindu .

Using the Aadhaar card, the Bangladeshi immigrants got other documents which certify proof of identity or address which is required for opening a bank account, getting rental accommodation and applying for jobs. “Even if they are intercepted during vehicle checks or surprise raids at vulnerable locations, they produce original documents relating to proof of identity or address and hence leaving no scope for any suspicion,” the official who preferred not to be quoted said.

The case was similar to Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who sailed to Tamil Nadu shores in boats years ago and settled in different districts. Their familiarity with the local language, culture and traditions made it easy for them to survive in the guise of local Tamils, the official said.

Foreigners’ Act

However, early this month five Bangladeshi immigrants were arrested in Reddychavadi police station limits in Cuddalore district under the provisions of the Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act, the Foreigners’ Act and other Sections of the IPC. In June last week, three Bangladeshis were arrested in Tirupur district and booked under the Foreigners’ Act.

Similar arrests were made in the western districts where the foreigners were alleged to have indulged in drug peddling. Some of them were also accused of acting as agents who brought in more Bangladeshi immigrants and got them jobs in the hosiery industry. Police were also investigating a specific input that about 50 Bangladeshi immigrants were settled on the outskirts of Chennai city in Chengalpattu district, police sources said.

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