May 172008

“The rest of India will feel what Assam has been feeling about Bangladesh. If something isn’t done, it won’t be long before Assam is overcome by Bangladesh” said my friend ,who is from Assam. She said there were parts of Assam in which people say this in a very matter of fact way.

This is in the aftermath of the Jaipur Bombings – where scores have died and where press reports seem to indicate that the bombers spoke Bengali. Already there is kb’s of stuff on the why’s and how’s of Bangladeshi terrorists as opposed to Pakistani terrorists.

A lot of the papers have spoken about Bangladeshi illegal immigrants – estimated at around 20 million, who could now become the target for increased security vigilance & deportation. Two questions arise here. a) how do you know that they are Banladeshi’s and not from West Bengal b) If you know that they are from Bangladesh and illegal immigrants, why are they still here ?

Why are there 20 million Bangladeshi’s illegally in India – because x thousand Indians have taken money to look the other way while they cross the border. y more thousand do not check papers before hiring because the illegal immigrant costs a fraction of local labour. z more thousand realise that they are illegal immigrants but choose to collude and keep quiet either because they feel sorry for them, couldn’t be bothered, or it benefits them in someway or the other. My sympathies are actually with the illegal immigrants of Bangladesh — they have come here because we have encouraged it, most of them possibly don’t even understand the concept of nation stares or international boundaries. they are here working at subsistence level and it is still a better life than what they left behind. .I would rather go after the Indians who are encouraging this sort of behavior.

I have been reading reactions from across cyberspace, where all options from sealing borders to invading the neighbours, cutting off water supply were suggested. While I am all for increased security, I think that at best it is latching the stable door after the horse has bolted. I think that in addition to these there need to be steps taken that attack the root of the problem .Since it seems to be suggestion time on national security, my two bits:

a) Make corruption a treasonable act : illegal stuff – whether it is immigration or adulterated medicines or drug smuggling (more on that later) or human trafficking or arms trafficking – happens because someone, somewhere has taken money under the table, to turn a blind eye. Make the act of taking a bribe or receiving a bribe treasonable and implement it across the board. Be it politicians, administrators or law enforcement officers or people who are bribe givers. Fast track the investigations. Publicize the investigations and let the public know the verdict. Include the scope of treason to include terrorism. In today’s time, treason goes beyond colluding with a foreign state. It needs to include trans national movements that seek at destablising nation states.

b) Make Aiding and Abetting Terrorists a Treasonable offense. People aren’t transporting themselves across international and state borders to specific cities to plant bombs. There is an entire chain of people than help them for a) monetary consideration or b) sympathy.

c) Derecognise Political Parties that buck the system and try and legalise ‘illegal immigrants’ as vote banks. Bar them from politics at any level for a 5 year period. If it seems that the political party/ politician has done this in return for monetary consideration then refer to a) above

c) Legalise Drugs – Since the 1980’s the sale of illegal drugs has substantially paid for terror across the world. India is no different. I find it stupid that we spend crores of rupees chasing narcotics unsuccessfully to put high profit margins in the hands of the terrorists. The simplest way of cutting down on the money available to terrorists would be to legalise drugs, tax it and maybe use the money to fight terrorists.

d) Modernize the Penal Code and the Judicial system – it is 150 years behind time. Digitize the system. set up a central data bank of cases. Invest in intelligence, and infrastructure. The game has changed and the system has to be given the tools to fight a different kind of war.

e) Ensure that the PUCL evloves into an ACLU kind of organisation and doesn’t end up trampling on human rights