Illegal immigration to India

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An illegal immigrant in India is a foreigner who has entered India either without valid documents or who initially had a valid document, but has overstayed beyond the permitted time, as per the general provisions of the Citizenship Act as amended in 2003.


  • With the steep fall in the numerical strength of the religious minorities, there is, however, a qualitative change in the causes of migration. Riots and killings have yielded place to other means of oppression. Minorities today find that they are seldom able to protect their faith, property and women. Reports of forced marriages and conversions have been pouring in. With the Muslim population growing at a faster rate, there is a rising pressure on land and minority properties are the obvious targets. Even temple lands are not being spared. Certain iniquitous laws in force like the Vested Properties Act and the enemy Properties Act are handy weapons to deprive the minorities of their properties. ... The infiltrators are not only by minorities of Bangladesh but also from the majority community Muslims. In absolute terms, the number of Muslims crossing into India is likely to much larger than that of non-Muslims. ... There is a direct correlation between the rise of fundamentalism and increase in influx.
  • The story of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) is one of the most tragic episodes in recent history. Once inhabited by tribals, this beautiful land has been substantially captured by the Muslims. Between 1979 and 1984 the Government settled about 4 lakh Muslims in the CHT area. [... it] led to clashes and protracted armed resistance by the major tribal group - the Chakmas. In this explosive situation, the regime sought a military solution and thousands of refugees crossed over to India. In 1974, there were 5.08 lakh people in the CHT area. .... The threats to the ethnic identity and culture as well as their land were evident.
  • It would be interesting to note that a group of intellectuals in Dacca is seeking to legitimize the migration of Muslims into the adjoining areas of North East region by invoking the theory of Lebensraum or living space.
    • Report of the General Secretaries in the North-Eastern States of the Congress (I). 1992. Also in Appendix II and pp. 243 ff. in in Shourie, Arun (1993). A secular agenda: For saving our country, for welding it. New Delhi, India: Rupa
  • The influx in cetain cases, has changed the demographic character .... Its serious religious and cultural dimensions are being increasingly felt in the states of West Bengal, Tripura and Bihar.... The simmering communal tension in some of the border areas is one of the manifestations of the effects of large scale illegal migration of Bangladeshi nationals who have slowly displaced or dispossessed the local population, particularly those belonging to the Hindu community, in these areas.
  • The Hindu immigrants have been generally staying in shanties in miserable conditions.... The Muslim infiltrators have fanned out to urban areas in other states most notably in Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra etc. In the metropolitan cities of Delhi and Bombay not less than 4 to 5 lakh Bangladeshi Muslims have been residing.
  • Following large-scale destruction on Hindu temples and religious institutions for four days between 30.10.90 and 2.11.90 ... clandestine migration by the Hindus to India went up.
  • In recent years, the pattern of illegal immigration from Bangladesh has changed in that Muslims have been infiltrating in large numbers. In fact, Muslim infiltrators... now far outnumber the Hindu immigrants.
    • Internal note prepared by the Home Ministry, Government of India, March 1992, also in Appendix I in Shourie, Arun (1993). A secular agenda: For saving our country, for welding it. New Delhi, India: Rupa and pp 224-42
  • When Kashmiri Hindus have to flee their homes after reading open threats in the Urdu papers and seeing relatives butchered, they are called "migrants"; but when Bangladeshi Muslims terrorize their Hindu neighbours and then migrate from their Islamic state to India in search of job opportunities, they are called "refugees". This type of inversion of word meanings is part of a wider mind-set of mendaciousness expressed through more ordinary lies, often of breathtaking effrontery.
  • Immigration from Bangladesh is of two types. Firstly there are members of the minority communities fleeing occasional waves of per­secution or the more general sense of being second-class citiz­ens under the Islamic dispensation. Few Hindus would disput­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­e their right to settle down in India. Secondly, there are Mus­lims seek­ing econom­­ic oppor­tunities or sheer living space, which dirt-poor and inten­sely overc­rowded Banglad­esh cannot offer to the ever-larger num­bers of newcomers on the hous­ing and labour market... The BJP argues that refugees from persecution and illegal economic migrants merit a different treat­ment, as is assumed in the arrangements for refugee relief of most countries. But sec­ularists see it differently, for "unlike the BJP, the Congre­ss (I) views both Hindus and Muslim from Bangladesh as in­filtrat­ors". Terminology is a part of the problem here, with secularists systematically describing Hindu refugees as "migrants" if not "infiltrators", and Muslim illegal immigrants as "refugees"... The Hindu population in East Bengal had declined from 33% in 1901 to 28% in 1941. It fell to 22% by 1951 due to the Partition and the post-Partition exodus, and to 18.5% in 1961. By 1971, it had fallen to 13.5%, partly due to the 1971 massacre by the Pakistani Army, partly due to intermittent waves of emigrati­on. The 1981 figure was 12.1%. In 1989 and 1990, due to "large-scale destru­ction, desecration and damage inflic­ted on Hindu temples and religious institutions", "clandestine migrat­ion­­­ by the Hindus to India went up".
    • Shourie: Secular Agenda, p.272,D.P. Roy, joint secreatry of the All-India Congress Committe. Quoted from Elst, Koenraad. (1997) The Demographic Siege, quoting A. Shourie.

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