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Cops turn eye on Jaipur's Bangladeshi enclave
Krishnakumar P in Jaipur | May 16, 2008 10:03 IST
Last Updated: May 16, 2008 11:52 IST
One of the features of Jaipur is that it a locality mostly comprising Bangladeshi migrants -- Bagrana. With the needle of suspicion pointing to the Bangladesh-based Harkat ul Jihad al Islami or HuJI, the Rajasthan police have turned their attention towards this transit camp.
Two days after the serial blasts, Bagrana, which lies eight km from the city on the Agra [Images] highway, is teeming with police vehicles. The police now focus on Bagrana because initial investigations indicated that one of the perpetrators, who bought a cycle used in the blast, spoke Hindi with a Bengali accent.
A police team arrived on Thursday morning and began checking the credentials of those in the basti.
"We have been asked to find out if any new person has come here. We have a door-to-door checking with the help of photo IDs. Those whose names are not on our records will be taken for questioning," Jeevan Ram Bishnoi, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Jaipur rural, said.
The photo IDs he is talking about are the ones taken five years ago, when a large number of Bangladeshi migrants were relocated here from inside the city. Till then they were living in shanties outside the Jaipur railway station. The locals protested the presence of encroachment within the city and they were moved to Bagrana.
"Three months before we moved, the authorities came to us and asked what we lacked. We said we did not have a roof over our heads and there was no electricity. The authorities promised to give us both if we relocated en masse to Bagrana. True to their word, they provided us kuchcha houses and electricity supply," Mohammed Dabloo Miyan, a Bangladeshi who migrated to India 17 years ago, said.
Though officially, the Bagrana transit camp has 5000 people, many say the number may be high. But the policemen are not deterred.
"Our brief is to check everyone's credentials and find out if anyone had come here recently, including those who were visiting relatives," Bishnoi said as his men went from hut to hut with a community leader in tow.
Though the police are here only after the blasts, the intelligence department has always had its ears to the ground. The CID even has a dedicated junior officer tending to the basti.
"I have been monitoring this place for two years. It is a pain to keep tab of what is happening in such a huge population, especially when people are very reluctant to help," the officer, who did not want to be named, said.
Explaining how it is difficult to keep a tab on new entrants, he said: "Only three days ago, we found out that a new family had come in. Since I know the people, I identified the girl as someone from the basti who had left it long time ago. She has now returned. We had to detain her anyway since she is an illegal immigrant and technically she has come here only now. Like this there are so many people who keep going out and coming in all the time. It is really difficult to keep a tab."
The officer, however, claimed that the place is a hotbed of criminals.
"Most drug peddlers in Jaipur are from here. They are also involved in many other criminal activities," he said, adding that the police even arrested a man who allegedly gone to Pakistan for six months for arms training.
"This guy came here one day and my sources alerted me to it. When we picked him up and interrogated him, we found out that he had just returned from Pakistan and had missed the phone number of the contact he was to get in touch here for an operation. That time, a major attack was foiled," he said.
Another reason that makes it tough for the police and other agencies to monitor the transit camp is the disunity within the community. "The camp consists of both Bangladeshis and Bengali people. The two groups are always at each other's throats. The Bangladeshi camp is a closed group and they never give out any information," he said.
Residents, however, deny such charges.
"There are mostly rag pickers, rickshaw pullers and labourers. There might be one or two people who do wrong. But to blame the entire basti for that is not right," one of the residents said.
They also said the police never harass them and it was only after the blasts that they were asked not to venture out of the basti.
"But then, there was a curfew in town also. I strongly believe if you have not done any wrong, nobody will harm you. I saw a youngster being picked up from the basti and taken to police station in connection with a crime. This boy was a labourer and he was innocent."
"The moment a senior officer came in, he took one look at him and told the interrogators that he cannot be a culprit.
"Look at his face. He wouldn't be involved," that is the what the officer said. But the interrogators were not convinced and they thoroughly questioned him before realizing he was innocent and they let him off," Dabloo Miyan said.
Beyond everything, at least for early settlers like him, India is like a motherland.
"We won't go back to Bangladesh even if we are offered a comfortable life there. It is India that gave us a chance to earn a livelihood when there was nothing in Bangladesh and we will live here."
"All my six children were born here and I want to see them grow up here and do well for themselves," he said.