Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Andaman Island's fast turning into mini-Bangladesh

The Indian Navy, Coast Guard and the Union Home Ministry are worried about a spurt in the influx of foreigners, particularly Bangladeshis, into the Andaman and Nicobar group of islands in the past five years. Officials of these agencies say the easy issue of identification papers such as ration cards, voter ID cards and residence certificates by littoral states on India’s east coast is aiding this influx.
A senior merchant navy official told Express, ‘‘It is very easy to get residence certificates, ration cards and other ID documents from these state governments, particularly Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.’’ A senior official of the Coast Guard put the onus of checking the influx on the Andamans administration. ‘‘The Coast Guard checks illegal entry into India’s territorial waters. But illegal aliens coming in through Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chennai harbours on passengers ships with state government ID papers ought to be checked by the Andamans administration.’’ Most of the influx consists of people from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, an official said. IB officials have found that most of the infiltrators settle and find work in Port Blair, Havelock, Diglipur, Middle Nicobar, Campbell’s Bay, Nell Island and Rangott Island.
There are no restrictions on Indians taking up work in the Andamans.
Foreigners have to register their arrival with the local authorities.
The intelligence agencies have reportedly alerted the home and defence ministries to this influx, and the Andamans administration has been told to keep its eyes open. IB officials told Express that while many of the infiltrators have already secured identification papers from the Andamans administration, there are a large number of paperless people living on the loose.
Most of the illegal infiltrators take up work as labourers for civil projects, which have mushroomed in the atoll in recent years. Many work as crane operators, masons and tailors.
The state coordination meeting on coastal security held in Visakhapatnam on April 22, presided over by Gowtham Kumar, principal secretary in the State Home Department, discussed the illegal influx.

Source : V K L Gayatri 
Indian Express 

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