The Border Security Force said on Friday that there has been an increase in the outflow of illegal Bangladeshi migrants to their home country over the past one month, following the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
A top official of the paramilitary force said there has been a spike in the number of illegal settlers apprehended since last month.
The outflow has been highest through the borders in the North 24 Parganas district, BSF Inspector General (South Bengal Frontier) Y B Khurania said.
"There has been some increase in outflow of illegal Bangladeshi migrants to the bordering country in last one month... In January alone, we had apprehended 268 illegal Bangladeshi migrants, most of who were trying to sneak into the neighbouring country," Khurania told reporters.
Those leaving were mostly engaged as masons, maids and housekeepers in the country, another BSF official said.
"The highest outflow is via North 24 Parganas district. They (migrants) were mostly based in Bengaluru and north India. Some were involved in paltry jobs such as masons, maids, housekeepers and sweepers," he said.
In 2019, the BSF had apprehended 2,194 Bangladeshis, most of them caught while trying to illegally sneak into India. But since December last year, things have changed, the official said.
West Bengal shares about 2,216.7-km border with Bangladesh, a large part of which is unfenced.
According to BSF sources, troopers were not stopping the immigrants from crossing over to their home country, except in cases when they were found to be smuggling goods.
"Only when they are concealing any contraband or trying to smuggle something to Bangladesh, we are apprehending them. Otherwise, we are taking a note of their particulars and details and letting them go back," one of the sources said.
According to the BSF, one of the biggest achievements of the South Bengal Frontier in 2019 has been putting a check on cross-border cattle smuggling.
"In 2018, the number of cattle seized was around 39,995 and in 2019 it had come down to 31,210. This year so far the figure is just 1,301," he said.
The CAA seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who moved to India on or before December 31, 2014, having fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The law has emerged as a major political flashpoint in West Bengal, with the TMC opposing the contentious legislation tooth and nail, and the BJP pressing for its implementation.