With the Narendra Modi government expected to take a tough stand on the issue of illegal immigration, Dhaka has mooted a fresh idea — for a mechanism to give special permits and IDs to workers from Bangladesh — ahead of talks with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday.
“We want to put an end to this issue of illegal immigration. We can have an arrangement where people from Bangladesh go to India on workers’ permits and have workers’ identity cards,” a top Bangladesh government source told The Indian Express Wednesday, hours before Swaraj landed in Dhaka in the evening.
“Labour moves where there is work. Seasonally, there is more requirement in India, and they go from here. We should streamline it.”
Citing the example of immigration from Mexico to the US, the official said, “The US has built stronger borders, but there is still migration. Has any US business asked for banning Mexican illegal immigrants?”
“If the Indian side raises the issue of illegal immigration in the meetings, we will put forward this idea,” the official said.
Bangladesh’s renowned filmmaker, author and activist Shriar Kabir, who has worked on the issue of illegal migrants, said, “This movement of people is happening from a weaker economy to a stronger economy. This is a worldwide phenomenon, although this has reduced in the past few years because of improved economic situation in Bangladesh.”
Bangladesh is also concerned about Modi’s election speeches, especially when he said Bangladeshi illegal immigrants should go back to their country. “What is his cut-off date? Is it people after 1947, or after 1971, or in 2001, or 2012… one doesn’t know,” a government source here said.
SUSHMA CALLS MAMATA
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj spoke to West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee Wednesday and is understood to have briefed her about her agenda for the Dhaka visit. This is expected to include the issues of illegal immigration, land boundary agreement and Teesta water-sharing treaty.
Swaraj will be meeting Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Foreign minister A H Mahmood Ali. She will also meet former PM Khaleda Zia, it was confirmed on Wednesday.