We caught up with Rathin Das in Tehetta Bazar,adjacent to the Bangladesh border.He has a valid passport.But he didn’t feel the urge to renew his visa.
“Do you know the consequence of this offense?”
Sticking his nose higher in the air,Rathin replied,”Are you joking?-Do you know the actual figure of Bangladeshis who entered India through valid passports and visas cannot be traced?They Just vanish into thin air.I’m just one of them.”Rathin then lifted the pile of papers and pointed his right finger in the middle,shuffled them a little and said,”Look at this figure-Authorities couldn’t trace over 1.2 million people from across the border legally through this state since 1970s.”
We met Sohail and his wife Rasheeda,near Karimpur in Nadia district another border town, They cross over the border for medical treatment.
In fact,thousands from Bangladesh prefer to come to Bengal for even minor medical treatments.Throughout the year,Bangladeshis occupy the hotel rooms in Sudder street and other parts of Kolkata.For some of them Kolkata is their second home.
One fine morning, we met Saifudeen Islam from Bangladesh at a resturant in Sadar Street. Sadar Street in Central Calcutta is the area where one can find tourists and bag packers from all over the world.Saifudeen was chatting with some of his friend.
“What’s going on?” we asked.
“we are amuse by the fact that even fugitives of our country consider West Bengal as a safe heaven,” he said,drawing our attention to a newspaper report.
“Do you have any knowledge the way they operate?,” one of his fried asked,dreading that he might already know the answer.In fact,fugitives and criminals use this side of the border as a safe heaven.They have been living Calcutta and adjoining places for years and easily manage to get Indian passports and even ration cards in their name.
Terror outfits regular use Bengal’s porous borders with Bangladesh to spread their subversive activities. Fake currency note rackets are very much active in India .
The 4,095 km border that India shares with Bangladesh,West Bengal alone covers 2,216 km. But it is along 1,145 km border in the southern part of the state that most of the influx from Bangladesh (both legal and illegal) takes place.
The border fencing that was started a few years ago is going on in a very slow pace.Experts believe that this type of measures may have check the infiltration,the porous border complicated the situation.
West Bengal is being increasingly used as a transit route by operatives of militant outfits sneaking in through its borders with Bangladesh.Rise in the number of sleeper cells in its districts adjoining the State’s borders with these two countries complicated the matter.
These sleeper cells work for various militant outfits and facilitate the entry of militants into India. Authorities couldn’t trace over 1.2 million people from across the border legally through this state since 1970s. Some of them have valid passport.But they didn’t feel the urge to renew their visas.