Shillong, Oct 18: Nearly 19,000 Bangladeshi infiltrators were detected in Meghalaya in less than six years, a police official said Friday.
According to the Meghalaya government figures, in the past five years until September 2013, 18,951 Bangladeshis were “detected” in the state. Of these, 978 were “prosecuted” and rest pushed back into Bangladesh.
This year alone, the police detected 3,163 illegal Bangladeshis in the state. At least 126 were “prosecuted” and 3,037 were sent back.
“The Indo-Bangladesh border is marked by a high degree of porosity and checking illegal cross-border activities has been a major challenge. The main problem is of illegal migration from Bangladesh into India,” a senior central home ministry official said.
The India-Bangladesh border passes through West Bengal (2,216.7 km), Assam (263 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Tripura (856 km) and Mizoram (318 km).
The entire stretch consists of plains, riverine belts, hills and jungles, and the area is also heavily populated and is cultivated right up to the border, the report stated.
The Border Security Force (BSF) has over years apprehended a number of Bangladeshi infiltrators while attempting to cross into Meghalaya or trying to cross over to Bangladesh.
Most of the arrested Bangladeshi infiltrators revealed they were working in the coal mining areas in Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district.
Another factor responsible for influx of Bangladeshi nationals is high demand of cheap labour in coal mining areasand manual jobs, a Meghalaya government official said.
“We cannot deny that there are no illegal Bangladeshi nationals working in the coal mines across Meghalaya since the local tribesmen don’t dare to enter the coal pits,” the official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The coal is extracted by primitive surface mining method called “rat-hole” mining that entails clearing ground vegetation and digging pits ranging from five to 100 sq.metres to reach the coal seams.
Workers go deep into these holes and extract the coal using traditional tools. Makeshift bamboo ladders take miners down into the pits to chip away through two-feet-high tunnels.
Meghalaya has a total coal reserve of 640 million tonnes.