|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss how illegal trans-border migration is a threat to India’s security. Mention various factors which give impetus to illegal immigration and strategies to curb this.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Illegal migration refers to the migration of people across national borders in a way that violates the immigration laws of the destination country. India has been witnessing immigration since independence. People who have faced religious and political persecution, economic and social discrimination, cultural repression and curbs on personal freedom have made India their home. Of all kinds of migration, illegal migration has become the most volatile and contentious issue in Indian polity today because of the socio-political conflicts it has brought in its wake.
Illegal trans-border migration- a threat to India’s security:
- Clashes due to Insecurity:Illegal migration has resulted in periodic clashes between the citizens of India and migrants, leading to their loss of life and property, and thereby violating their constitutional rights. This has led to a feeling of dissatisfaction and anger among locals against immigrants and state for not taking any action against migrants.
- Disturbance in Law and Order:The rule of law and integrity of the country are undermined by the illegal migrants who are engaged in illegal and anti-national activities, such as entering the country fraudulently acquiring identity cards, exercising voting rights in India and resorting to trans-border smuggling and other crimes.
- Rise of Militancy: The persistent attacks against the Muslims perceived as illegal migrants in Assam has given way to radicalisation within certain sections of the Muslim community. The formation of militant organisations, such as the Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) is a threat to national security.
- Human trafficking: In the recent decades, trafficking of women and human smuggling have become quite rampant across the borders. The Centre for Women and Children Studies estimated that 27,000 Bangladeshis have been forced into prostitution in India. Poverty and hunger forces either the parents to sell the girls to traffickers or the girls themselves leave home and fall prey to traffickers.
- Terrorism: Marginalization of the indigenous peoples in their own states as a result of demographic pressure exerted by immigrants had given rise to many protest movements in the region. An off-shoot of such movements is the emergence of many insurgent groups in the states like Tripura and Assam that created internal security problems for the Government. The influx of foreign nationals also created deep security concerns mainly in view of infiltration by the Islamic terrorists to foment trouble within India. Existence of many Islamic terrorist groups and collusive networks in Assam adds alarming dimension to India’s security problem.
Factors which give impetus to illegal immigration:
- Political Factors: Political factors have been one of the major reasons in forcing the Bangladeshi and Pakistani Hindus out of the country and into India. Besides riots and war, discriminatory land laws were another region for immigration. At the same time, availability of land, better economic opportunities, education and health facilities and a similar cultural landscape have attracted these migrants to settle in India.
- Religious Discrimination: In Bangladesh, the already discriminatory land laws were further manipulated by vested interest groups and corrupt administrators to dispossess and alienate the Hindus from their own land and property. Religion has a particular effect in the case of the Rohingya Crisis.
- Growing Population: Growing population creates greater demands on resources such as land, food, energy, water and forest products, and their consequent overuse results in deterioration of quality. This process, in turn, encourages inequality in resource distribution among the rich and poor as the rich corner them and deny the poor their share.
- Stagnant Economic Growth and Lack of Employment: Industrialisation in India’s neighbouring countries has not been able to keep pace with the growing labour force and as a result, the unemployment rate is declining. The working-age people who are unable to find jobs in the country look outside for employment opportunities.
- Porous Borders: India shares a long and porous international border with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The border traverses a range of natural and cultural landscapes, which pose a challenge to its effective management.
Strategies to curb illegal immigration:
- Tighter Border Controls: The first step towards addressing the issue of illegal migration is not to allow persons to cross the international border without authorisation. For this purpose, border controls need to be made tighter to deter aliens from illegally crossing the borders.
- Strengthening Border Surveillance: Despite experiencing continuous illegal migration, India’s border had remained poorly guarded. While some efforts for strengthening border controls along the border were envisaged, no concrete steps were taken to secure the border against illegal migration. Augmenting the presence of the BSF along the border to effectively man the border is an important step towards better border surveillance.
- Border Fencing: Border fencing as a potential tool to prevent illegal migration. The international border shall be made secure against future infiltration by erection of physical barriers like barbed wire fencing and other obstacles at appropriate places. Further roads should be constructed to facilitate patrolling by the security forces and all effective measures should be undertaken to prevent infiltrators crossing or attempting to cross the international border.
Illegal migration into India has continued unabated since independence. As lakhs of undocumented migrants fleeing either politico-religious persecution or economic deprivation crossed the border and settled in the border states of India, it created conflict between the host population and the immigrants. Thus, it is important to tackle the issue of illegal migration very carefully in order to safeguards India’s interests.