NEW DELHI, June 28 � While the hue and cry against illegal infiltration from neighbouring Bangladesh continues to rage in the North Eastern States, there is a report that immigrant workers from Bangladesh had sent home over USD 6 billion last year from India, according to the World Bank.
The report also comes at a time when India has decided to relax visa regime for a category of Bangladeshi nationals planning to cross its borders. Children below the age of 13 and citizens above the age of 65 will be given multiple-entry tourist visas for five years on their arrival in India.
The decision was conveyed by External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to her counterpart Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali in Dhaka on June 26 during her maiden foreign visit.
Meanwhile, India World Report reported that Bangladeshi workers in India transferred more than USD 6.6 billion to their home country, making them the biggest source of remittances to Bangladesh. This is more than four times the money being sent from Saudi Arabia, the second highest contributor. The remittances from India were about 47.1 per cent of Bangladesh�s total remittances from foreign countries in 2012.
India is a preferred destination among Bangladeshi migrants because of the low cost of migration. �Illegal migrants can avoid securing a plethora of documents including issuance of passports if they migrate to India,� says a study published by the Asia Foundation in 2013. A return bus ticket from Dhaka to Agartala costs USD 10.
While there are no recent data available on the total number of Bangladeshis staying in India, over 400,000 visas were issued in 2012-13.
This is in addition to the continued illegal migration from Bangladesh through the highly porous North Eastern States and West Bengal.
Officially India issued 4.83 lakh visas to Bangladeshis in 2012-2013, 4.81 lakh in 2011-2012 and 4.48 lakh visas in 2010-2011.
As reported, the size of illegal Bangladeshi migrants in India is estimated at 6 crore and the biggest problem the country is facing is on the economic and security fronts due to continuous migration from Bangladesh.
A book, Bangladeshi Migrants - A Threat to India, authored by former additional director general of BSF PK Mishra, points to this fact.
This is the first time that a number has been put on the size of the illegal migrants, that too by an official, who was responsible for guarding the country�s border.
The last time the government had given an estimate was in the report on internal security released during the NDA regime. The figure then was put at 120 million.
The rising population, non-availability of land, unemployment, floods and cyclones, push Bangladeshi migrants to India for a better economic opportunity and good education, analysed the former top BSF official.