On Wednesday, Home Minister Amit Shah in Rajya Sabha said that the government would deport illegal immigrants from “every inch of the country’s soil”. This was in response to SP member Javed Ali Khan’s inquiry on the national implementation of NRC, which has until now been restricted to the state of Assam. Assam is the hotbed for illegal immigrants from Bangladesh which has been a huge problem since the past many decades. Apart from Bangladeshi immigrants, migrants from Pakistan and Myanmar have also been on the rise.
A couple of years ago, it had been reported that there are approximately 20 million (2 crore) Bangladeshis have been living in India illegally. The NDA government has taken an unwavering stance against the issue and has introduced the NRC to seek out illegal immigrants and deal with them. The final NRC is scheduled on 31st July and the number of people facing deportation, given last year, may fluctuate.
This move has been met with a lot of criticism from the opposition. Since the past many decades, Mamata Banerjee led TMC and the CPI, have adopted a soft stance towards the illegal migrants, overlooking the facts for want of a large vote bank. Now, with the introduction NRC, they have come out claiming ‘human rights violation’ and ‘fascism’. This quick declaration of a government or its policy being ‘fascist’, without any regard to the perils of illegal migrants, is eerily similar to the Australian situation.
As early as in 2001, Australian government under the leadership of John Howard, in a widely controversial move, had refused permission to let a boat carrying over 433 Afghan refugees from entering in the Australian waters. After a decade of letting in refugees from war distraught regions of Afghanistan and Iran, Australia had closed off its door, in one of the boldest and most decisive moves. The decision had led to the wrath of the left faction of the labor party in the country, along with several other countries including Norway. However, Australia was unwavering in its stance and the stringent migrant policies continue till today. Part of the reason for the acceptance of Australia’s Border Protection Bill, aimed at keeping the refugees in check was the 9/11 attacks in the USA.
Indian opposition, however, refuses to see the situation this way and even when the threat of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants spreading terrorism is so widespread, NRC is condemned. The most recent incident just occurring about a month ago wherein 4 individuals of the neo-Jamat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operative, an Islamic State(IS) affiliate were apprehended, 3 of them being Bangladeshi nationals fleeing from their own country to avoid arrest.
Amit Shah’s bold statement on Wednesday takes us back to the October of 2015, when the erstwhile Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott had delivered the Margaret Thatcher memorial lecture at Guildhall in London. The lecture centered around Australia’s immigration policy which many frowned upon.
In a simple yet effective strategy, the Australian government does not let refugees enter the Australian waters by intercepting the boats and forcibly turning them towards Indonesia or some other country. If by any chance the boats do reach the border, the refugees are sent off to Nauru or Papua New Guinea where the Australian government maintains detention camps. The living condition in the detention camps is deplorable, so as to deter others from coming in.
In the most logical sense, Abbott explained Australia’s stand on illegal immigration. According to Abbott, “people claiming asylum – invariably – have crossed not one border but many; and are no longer fleeing in fear but are contracting in hope with people smugglers. However desperate, almost by definition, they are economic migrants. Our moral obligation is to receive people fleeing for their lives. It’s not to provide permanent residency to anyone and everyone who would rather live in a prosperous western country.”
The model is extremely appealable to the United States and the European countries, which are weighed down under the heavy burden of immigrants. A recent photograph had surfaced in which 2 individuals, including a young girl had been shown, drowned in their attempts to cross the US-Mexico border. US President Donald Trump had lauded the Australian laws and had stated that if the USA had better laws, such ghastly incidents could be prevented as individuals would be deterred from attempting to seek migration to developed countries. This is a valid statement, considering the fact that the percentage of illegal immigrants attempting to seek refuge in Australia has drastically reduced. Trump even used Australia’s posters against illegal immigration to appeal to the people.
Europe too has recently seen an influx of immigration, from Central Africa and Middle East and is distraught at the growing level of illegal migration through the Mediterranean sea.
India too can learn from the Australian model. The illegal immigrants mostly from Bangladesh are not facing any immediate threat, and neither are the countries in a state of war. The mass illegal immigration from Bangladesh is not due to conflict. As such, India is well within its right to take harsh measures to prevent such illegal immigration.
Being in the same sub-continent, Bangladeshi culture and language are similar to that of the Indians. For a very small price, individuals can travel to India from Bangladesh and even bolster their migration through false IDs, which are readily available. Thereon, the individuals continue to live in the country, usurping the resources and jobs of the natural citizens and no one bats an eye. Ironically enough, when efforts are being made to curb this rampant exploitation of the country’s resources by illegal outsiders, Indians are protesting. India is finally refusing to offer an easy platter to the people living in economically weak regions, as it owes nothing to them. And the sooner the immigrants understand this, the better.