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Ineffective monitoring to check illegal immigration: Chidambaram

January 11, 2009 16:06 IST

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Indicating stricter measures to check illegal immigration from Bangladesh, Home Minister P Chidambaram [Images] has said nationals from that country have 'no business to be in India without permission' and that there is no reason why a large number of visas are being issued to them every month.

Chidambaram, who has been taking a close look at the security set-up in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks [Images], voiced concern over the very ineffective monitoring system to check whether a Bangladeshi coming to India has returned to his country after expiry of his visa or stayed on.

Noting that illegal immigration was causing unexpected demographic changes in Assam and West Bengal, he said, "I don't regard a Bangladeshi as a Muslim or a non-Muslim. He is a Bangladeshi. He has no business to come to India unless he has a visa. He has no business to live here unless he has a residence permit.

"He has no business to work here unless he has a work permit. He is a Bangladeshi. His religion is completely irrelevant," he told a TV channel during an interview.

To a question on steps to end illegal immigration, the Home Minister said, "I am now looking into what is happening on our borders, passport control points...I think we issue  very large number of visas to Bangladeshis every month.

"There is no reason to issue so many visas. And there is very ineffective monitoring system (to check) whether the guy has gone back to Bangladesh or remained here," Chidambaram said.

Chidambaram said porous borders and illegal immigration were causing "unexpected demographic changes and a lot of angst" among the native population in Assam and West Bengal.

"I am in sympathy with that contention that demographies are changing. But some parts of the history cannot be retraced. So, one has to learn to accept it. Therefore, we will have to swallow something, accept some pain and then make sure that it doesn't continue for the next five or ten years," he said.

Observing that the intelligence system has been more or less fixed with the re-establishment of the Multi-Agency Centre, the Home Minister said the best example of that was the security agencies had prior information about a recent attack in Guwahati.

"We had information late in the afternoon of December 31. We shared it in real time basis with the Assam sovernment...I was able to speak to the Chief Minister," he said.

Maintaining that the agencies were able to give even the name of a potential terrorist, he admitted that there was a 'little hiccup' with regard to acting on the information.

Chidambaram also said there has been 'no leak' from any central intelligence agency since the first week of December. "For example, nobody knew about Guwahati until I disclosed it there (during my recent visit). But I cannot stop state policemen from talking to the press."

Terming as unfortunate the blame game among security agencies, he said, "We have clearly laid down the rule book that no central government agency will talk on these matters."

On specific information with regard to the Mumbai strikes, Chidambaram explained, "Well, it can be as specific as you can get. You will not get an invitation card which says you are cordially invited to come and witness a seaside incursion...You will not get anything like that.

"There was enough intelligence building up and I think the last piece was quite clinching. It was shared with two agencies as I said in Parliament. They say they did their best. They could not locate the ship or the fishing trawler."

Maintaining that there have been gaps in intelligence gathering and intelligence sharing, the Home Minister said, "After the intelligence was shared, neither the giver nor the receiver were talking to each other and asking questions. That I think is the failure."

He said what was important was gathering intelligence, sharing it and then following it up rigourously to take it to its logical end.

Asked if anything has been found about that ship which was used by the terrorists, he said "Yes, it is a Pakistani ship. Well, it is (now) probably hidden..."

On its ownership, he said, "That we don't know. Those investigations can take place only on the Pakistani soil. I am sure that the ship is hidden in some minor port, so we never find it."

To a question on the Pakistani system of registration of its nationals, Chidambaram said," In fact, they say Ajmal Amir Kasab's [Images] (the lone surviving Mumbai attack terrorist) name is not there. Our information is that not more than 30 per cent of Pakistanis are on that national data system."

He also said that he has a 150-day plan to meet the needs and demands of paramilitary forces, which have been fighting terror.

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