Kendrapara: As many as 137 Bangladeshi immigrants who were detected last September are going to vote in the coming Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
As per High Court and Home Department orders Sub-collector Sanjay Kumar Mishra had directed the district administration to identify the Bangladeshis staying in Mahakalapara block, and to issue notices to them to leave. If they do not leave the administration had to start deportation procedures.
Orders to identify the Bangladeshis were issued as per HC orders and a committee comprising the BDO and the tehsildar of Mahakalapara, Jamboo Marine police station IIC and assistant fishery officer (marine) of Mahakalapara had started checking their names and family trees, and this is still going on.
However, the HC orders were misinterpreted as an order to delete names from electoral rolls. It was clarified to the HC that the only way to delete names from voters’ lists is by submitting Form-7 to booth level officers.
Mishra has not received any application for deletion of the 137 Bangladeshis from voters’ lists in Form-7 from BLOs. As Form-7 has not been filed before the electoral registration officer by BLOs the 137 Bangladeshis would be able to vote in the coming polls, said Mishra, who is also the electoral registration officer.
Meanwhile, official sources said the Bangladeshis have only been identified, and that the full report has not been received from the enumeration team.
Official sources said the names of 32,173 people, 13,319 males and 18,853 females, have been deleted in the five Assembly seats of the district. In Mahakalapara block, 7384 names, 3308 males and 4076 females, have been deleted via Form 7.
The population in several coastal hamlets of Mahakalapara block had increased substantially in recent years as Bangladeshis have become a major vote bank for local politicians.
The intruders gained at the expense of locals and are also destroying the region’s eco-system. They have also turned the areas into a safe haven for illegal activities.
The influx of Bangladeshis into the coastal areas along the Mahanadi delta, which has the country’s second largest mangrove cover, started in the 1970s.
After a gap of 14 years, the district administration launched an enumeration drive to identify Bangladeshis staying illegally in Kendrapara district. An enumeration drive was carried out in 2004 in the district to detect Bangladeshis.
Around 1,684 Bangladeshis were found staying in the district, including in Mahakalapara and Rajnagar, as per the 2004 enumeration carried out by the police and Revenue Departments.
Bangladeshis infiltrated Kendrapara district in two phases. The first influx started in 1947 during partition, and it became pronounced after the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war and has been rapidly increasing since then.
The maximum influx from Bangladesh occurred in the 1980s, and they have been taking the sea route to reach these areas.
In 1956, nearly 1,250 Bangladeshis were rehabilitated as registered refugees and resettled in Mahakalapara and Rajnagar blocks. During the 1980s, the immigrants numbered only 20,000, but now their numbers have doubled.
It may be noted here that as per directions of the Centre, the state slapped ‘Quit India Notice’ under Section-3 of the Foreigners’ Act, 1948, to 1,551 Bangladeshis who had come to coastal villages after December 16, 1971.