Citizenship and illegal immigration are two diverse issues that often find a common ground in politics of the world.
It is, therefore, no surprise that the chief minister of the poll bound state of West Bengal, too, has found in the certificate of citizenship a useful tool to garner votes.
An election march along the Indian side of the border in Cooch Behar, Bengal. Shib Shankar Chatterjee
It is a known fact that thousands (possibly lakhs) of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants have been living in the state for many years now.
The misplaced fear of hurting religious sentiments and minority groups have often acted as a hindrance in action against illegal immigrants, who are mostly Muslims.
Two Bangladeshi women climb the border wall with India to enter illegally. Gaël Turine/Agence VU’
Banerjee said that she’ll be requesting the Centre for the same because the right to issue citizenship rests with the Union Government.
“We will ask the Centre to authorise district magistrates to issue citizenship certificates to those who are living in Bengal for five years or more. DMs used to issue citizenship certificates to those who came from Bangladesh before 1971, but that power was withdrawn in 1985.”
Over the last five years of Banerjee’s rule, Bengal has witnessed a rise in both political violence as well as terrorist activities. Districts bordering Bangladesh are a hub of criminal activities. Banerjee has been accused by the opposition for ignoring such cases for the convenience of vote bank.
Case in point was the recent Malda riots which was dismissed by the Mamata Banerjee government as a clash between the locals and BSF. The clashes were painted in both communal and criminal (opium) colours but illegal immigration was underlined.
That there are a high number of illegal immigrants in Bengal has been brilliantly proved via a calculation of population growth by Anish Gupta.