12 Jan : Congress on Monday supported Home Minister P Chidambaram’s tough stand on the issue of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. "We accept it … that is our view. It’s not a question of religion. It’s the law of the land," AICC spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan told reporters in New Delhi, when asked about Chidambaram’s view that Bangladeshis are not welcome in the country without visas.
Chidambaram had also noted that illegal immigration was causing "unexpected demographic changes in Assam and West Bengal".Supporting the Home Minister’s view, Natarajan said, "Parliament has passed that law (IMDT). What he had said is also the view of the Parliament."
Chidambaram, who has been taking a close look at the security set up in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, voiced concern over the "very ineffective" monitoring system to check whether a Bangladeshi coming to India has returned to his country after expiry of his visa or stayed on.
Noting that illegal immigration was causing "unexpected" demographic changes in Assam and West Bengal, he said, "I don’t regard a Bangladeshi as a Muslim or a non-Muslim. He is a Bangladeshi. He has no business to come to India unless he has a visa. He has no business to live here unless he has a residence permit. "He has no business to work here unless he has a work permit. He is a Bangladeshi. His religion is completely irrelevant," he said.
To a question on steps to end illegal immigration, the Home Minister said, "I am now looking into what is happening on our borders, passport control points…I think we issue a very large number of visas to Bangladeshis every month.
"There is no reason to issue so many visas. And there is very ineffective monitoring system (to check) whether the guy has gone back to Bangladesh or remained here," Chidambaram said in New Delhi on Sunday.
Chidambaram said porous borders and illegal immigration were causing "unexpected demographic changes and a lot of angst" among the native population in Assam and West Bengal.
"I am in sympathy with that contention that demographies are changing. But some parts of the history cannot be retraced. So, one has to learn to accept it. Therefore, we will have to swallow something, accept some pain and then make sure that it doesn’t continue for the next five or ten years," he said.
Observing that the intelligence system has been "more or less fixed" with the re-establishment of the Multi-Agency Centre (MAC), the Home Minister said the "best example" of that was the security agencies had prior information about a recent attack in Guwahati.
"We had information late in the afternoon of 31st December. We shared (it) in real time basis with the Assam Government…I was able to speak to the Chief Minister," he said.
Maintaining that the agencies were able to give even the name of a potential terrorist, he admitted that there was a "little hiccup" with regard to acting on the information.Chidambaram also said there has been "no leak" from any central intelligence agency since the first week of December.
"For example, nobody knew about Guwahati until I disclosed it in Guwahati (during my recent visit). But I cannot stop state policemen from talking to the press."
Terming as "unfortunate" the blame game among security agencies, he said, "We have clearly laid down the rule book that no central government agency will talk on these matters."