New Delhi: The government on Thursday said it does not have specific details about the magnitude of illegal migration from Bangladesh to India as it takes place clandestinely.
Replying to a unstarred question in Lok Sabha, Minority Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said there are reports of illegal infiltration and immigration of Bangladeshi nationals, who manage to "infiltrate into the country despite checks and control" at the International border.
JD-U's Arjun Rai and BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi wanted to know about the visit of the National Commission for Minority (NCM) to violence-hit Assam and about reports of migration of Bangladeshi Muslims into the region.
In his reply, Khurshid that infiltration takes place particularly through few patches where fencing is not feasible due to difficult terrain and riverine areas.
"As this activity takes place clandestinely, no specific details are available about the magnitude of this illegal migration to India...including Assam."
The minister said the powers of identification and deportation of illegally staying foreign nationals including those from Bangladesh have been delegated to state governments and Union Territory administrations under the Foreigners Act while tribunals have been set up for detection of foreigners/illegal migrants in the state of Assam.
On apprehension expressed by NCM that people in Bodo Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) can become militants by setting up links with Jehadi elements, Khurshid said, "They have only expressed apprehension about arms being supplied
from outside the area".
The NCM report submitted to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last month had concluded that ethnic violence in Assam was between Bodos and "resident Muslims" and not Bangladeshi immigrants.
The Commission members had also brought to the notice of Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi the "danger of Muslims in the BTC becoming militants in the future, in case their security was not ensured".
"There can be grave danger in future in case militant Jehadi outfits from the rest of the country start supplying lethal weapons in this area," the report had said.
In the reply, the minister said the government has taken steps for strengthening the Border Security Force and providing them with modern equipment, reduction of gaps between border posts and intensified patrolling along Indo-Bangladesh border.
A three-member team of NCM consisting of a member of the Planning Commission, an adviser of the plan panel and a member of the minority body had visited Kokrajhar, Gossaigaon and Dhubri districts of Assam on August 11 and 12.
The minister said that the report of this team centred on the conditions of the relief camps and the law and order situation in these areas and recommendations.
He said that the fence along the Bangladesh border is being strengthened and a scheme for flood lighting along the border is being implemented.
"The strengthening of security and erection of fencing along Indo-Bangladesh border has helped in curbing illegal migration from Bangladesh to India effectively," Khurshid said.
He also said that the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh is regularly discussed at relevant bilateral meetings, including the Working Group on Security, Director General level talks between the Border Security Force and Border Guard Bangladesh, Home Secretary level talks and Home Minister level consultations.
"The two countries have put in place mechanisms, including a coordinated Border Management Plan signed in July 2011, to address issues arising from illegal border crossings and incidents on the border and to enhance cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries," the minister said.