Kolkata: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asked five eastern States sharing boundaries with Bangladesh to be extra vigilant against influx of Rohingyas and illegal immigrants through the porous Indo-Bangla border.
At a meeting of chief ministers and home ministers of West Bengal, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and Tripura here, he said a border protection grid on the lines of Unified Command set up in insurgency-hit States will soon come up in these States to check illegal infiltration.
“The State governments have to be extra vigilant against the Rohingyas and other illegal immigrants,” he said, flagging the central government’s priority to check the illegal immigrants from Myanmar through Bangladesh.
The home minister resolved to check illegal immigrants who have links with extremists groups for further anti- national activities with ulterior motive and posing threat to internal security.
“Radical elements and terrorists can be checked only with joint action and active cooperation of central and State governments,” he said.
Influx of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis though the porous Indo-Bangla border has been a major concern for India.
According to official estimates, around 36,000 Rohingyas are currently living in various parts of India.
Director General of BSF K K Sharma had last week said his troops apprehended 87 Rohingya Muslims along the Indo-Bangla border from the beginning of this year till October 31, and 76 were sent back to Bangladesh.
He quoted latest estimates to say that 9-10 lakh Rohingya Muslims have migrated to Bangladesh from Myanmar and the possibility of a spillover to India cannot be ruled out.
The home minister said the concept of the grid has been planned as a multi-pronged and foolproof mechanism to secure the 4,036-km-long Indo-Bangla border.
“The grid will comprise various elements namely physical barriers, non-physical barriers, surveillance, system, Intelligence agencies, State police, BSF and other State and central agencies,” he said in his opening remarks.
Of the border with Bangladesh, 2,217 km falls in West Bengal, 262 km in Assam, 443 km in Meghalaya, 856 km in Tripura and 180 km in Mizoram.
This is the fourth meeting of the chief ministers of States, which share international borders, called by the home minister. Three separate meetings of chief ministers of States, sharing borders with Pakistan, China and Myanmar, was held earlier.
Unified Command structures comprising army, paramilitary forces and State police are in place in State like Jammu and Kashmir, Assam and Nagaland to effectively deal with militants.
Singh said the NDA government has been giving highest priority to secure India’s international border by putting in place a robust system to facilitate legitimate trade and commerce.
“India has friendly relations with Bangladesh and all these measures will be taken to facilitate genuine trade and legitimate cross-border movement of people while curbing radicalisation, illegal immigration, smuggling of cattle, fake Indian currency notes and drugs,” he told the chief ministers and top officials of the five States.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal sought a new law to check the cross-border smuggling, including cattle, and effective steps to end illegal immigration.
Sonowal said the central government should set a deadline – possibly December 2018 – to completely seal the international border with Bangladesh.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee appreciated the central government’s initiative to hold this meeting of the chief ministers and offered full cooperation to any joint action.