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Congress changes stance on Bangladeshis

Congress changes stance on Bangladeshis

Author: Sunetra Choudhury, Kishalay Bhattacharjee
Publication: NDTV.com
Date: January 13, 2009
URL: http://ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20090079926&ch=633674792148370000

Home Minister P Chidambaram's tough stance on Bangladeshi migrants on NDTV's Walk The Talk programme has come as a bit of a surprise for many.

While his party denies this, activists and the Opposition say that the Congress seems to have done a complete turnaround on this issue in the last few months.

The party has come a long way since the IMDT act which protected migrants from having to prove their citizenship.

"If he is a Bangladeshi he has no business to come to India unless he has a valid visa. He has no business to live here unless he has a resident permit, and no business to work here if he has no work permit," Chidambaram had said.

Tough talk by the home minister, signalling a change in stance of the Congress that has earlier been accused of protecting illegal Bangladeshis with the Illegal Migrants or IMDT Act. But now, after a series of terror attacks, from Assam to the rest of the country, the ready vote bank is being seen as a potential threat.

"I agree that it's a pragmatic view but they should be identified and deported," said Tarun Gogoi, Chief Minister, Assam.

The Supreme Court had struck down the IMDT in 2005. Even then the Congress party had said that they would make tribunals to protect migrants from harassment but now activists say, the Congress is not interested in doing that.

"Just as they changed their stance on the terror law, they have also changed their stance on Bangladeshis. I really think Chidambaram has taken a different stance," said Prashant Bhushan, activist and lawyer.

The Opposition BJP that wants Bangladeshi migrants deported, wants the government to act tough.

"All I can say is, Chidambaram please walk the talk," said Ravi Shankar Prasad, spokesperson, BJP.

But the police who have the responsibility of identifying illegal Bangladeshis, say it is an impossible task, one which tough talk alone can never achieve.

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