Representational image. | Image Courtesy: Scroll.in
The Bengaluru police have reportedly arrested 60 people on October 27, claiming that they were undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants. Addressing a press conference led by the City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao, the police said that these people (29 men, 22 women and 9 children) were living in the peripheral areas like Ramamurthynagar, Bellandur and Marathalli, in the city.
According to a report by The Wire, “[T]hese raids were conducted with the help of inputs from the Central Crime Branch, which has been collating information from Intelligence Bureau officials about suspected Bangladeshis camping in the city. A team of police personnel has reportedly been formed by the Crime Branch specifically to locate “illegal Bangladeshis” ever since the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said it would carry out the exercise of having National Register of Citizens (NRC) like Assam in Karnataka too.”
As NewsClick had reported earlier, Karnataka Home Minister Basavraj Bommai had issued a statement on October 3, 2019 declaring that the state was keen on implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Also Read: NRC in Karnataka: BJP’s Hope to Retain its Political Presence in the State
Bangalore Mirror quoted an official as saying, “All the arrested will be deported to Bangladesh. There is information about some foreign nationals who are overstaying in K R Puram, Bagalur, and other areas. Efforts are being made to arrest them. The passport and visa documents of all foreigners staying in the city are being checked.”
It has to be noted here that the word “foreigner” here has not been used for Bangladeshis. However, according to a report in The News Minute, “[T]hree categories of people are declared foreigners by the Bureau of Immigration. This includes those registered with the office and whose visa or passport have expired, those who are not registered with the office and have overstayed in Bengaluru after arriving on a different visa like a tourist visa, and those foreigners involved in criminal cases and facing deportation after court proceedings are completed.”
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said before that the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) would be brought in and all the people belonging to the Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Christian and Buddhist communities would be given Indian citizenship. Shah made it explicit through his statement that the intention of the government is to keep the Muslims out. The BJP government in Karnataka is following the footsteps of the central government.
Also Read: Another Karnataka BJP Minister Gives Communal Speech, Calls Muslim Votes ‘Irrelevant’
In their article titled, Why Bengaluru Doesn’t Need the NRC, Chandan Gowda and Vikas Kumar note that the spatial expansion of Bengaluru and the growth of the city is owed greatly to migration. The question really is, how much of this migration is really international? In this article in the Livemint, they note, “What the data (census) reveals is that the absolute headcount of a community (or people of a particular nationality) doesn’t matter as much as the perceived visibility of that particular community (the eight north-eastern states combined, for example, accounted for just 24,000 Bengaluru residents, but they mostly work in highly visible sectors like hospitality). It also shows that the number of international immigrants in the silicon city was a mere 44,000, with roughly half of them originating from a country in Asia. And the number of people of Bangladeshi origin (includes legal residents) in the entire state of Karnataka in February 2011 was 4,420 (0.00007% of the state’s population).”
The BJP ministers have been persistent in demanding NRC to be implemented in Bengaluru to begin with and then followed by the state. In fact, a detention centre has been built in Sondekoppa in Nelamangala, around 40 km from Bengaluru. According to The News Minute, this centre has an appearance of a jail. According to an official from the Bureau of Immigration, who spoke to The News Minute, “If a foreigner is in judicial custody, then they will not be detained in a detention centre. This centre will be used to detain foreigners facing deportation after court proceedings have been completed. There is usually a period of time in which documents like passport, etc. are arranged and in this period, they will be detained at the centre.”
Also Read: Politics and Ramifications of the NRC in Assam