New Delhi: The Karnataka government has decided to put its earlier plan of implementing an exercise similar to the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) in Assam on hold and instead focus only on creating a database of immigrants who have entered the state without necessary documents.
The decision, according to media reports, was taken partly because of the practical difficulties in preparing and maintaining an exhaustive registry. Times of India has quoted the state home minister Basavaraj Bommai as having said, “We are considering compiling details of citizens [which will] help the government in tracking down illegal and overstaying foreign nationals.”
Only a fortnight ago, Bommai had claimed that an exercise to compile the NRC would soon be taken up in the state. In his announcement Bommai had also claimed that similar plans are underway in other states too and that the NRC is a pan-India plan.
The B.S. Yediyurappa government in Karnataka was one of the first states to have taken a cue from Assam’s NRC drive and announce a similar one. It has also set up a detention centre in Nelamagala in rural Bengaluru.
The Bengaluru detention centre, according to a report in The Federal, is apparently considered to be the first step towards the larger vision of the BJP, which said in its 2019 election manifesto that it would compile NRCs across the country and deport undocumented immigrants, particularly those from Bangladesh.
Karnataka, particularly Bengaluru, has a large settlement of Bengali-speaking Muslim labourers. In Thubarahalli village located along the tech corridor of East Bengaluru is home to over 5000 Bengali-speaking Muslims, says the Federal report. Their living conditions have been precarious and most migrant Muslims in the state live in constant fear of police harassment and persecution.
Like Karnataka, Maharashtra too has started scouting for a detention centre in Mumbai. In Nerul, Navi Mumbai, the state has already identified a space to build a detention centre to accommodate 50 inmates at a time. The struggle of Bengali-speaking Muslims in Mumbai is not new. The Wire has reported on challenges faced by the community living in Mumbai.
National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) data indicates that after West Bengal, Maharashtra and Karnataka have most numbers of cases registered under the Foreigners Act. Police officials claim that suspected Bangladeshis outnumber other foreigners migrating to these states. Among these suspected Bangladeshis, almost all are Bengali-speaking Muslims.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh, where chief minister Adityanath has already expressed eagerness for an NRC plan, has ordered police at all levels to identify and document illegal immigrants living within its borders.