Saswat Singhdeo

Balasore/Kendrapara: Close on the heels of final list release of National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, Opposition parties in Odisha have demanded a register of citizens to identify immigrants in the State.

“All the immigrants who are residing in Odisha should be sent back to the place where they originally belong to. Naveen babu should take steps to do the same through NRC,” said Leader of Opposition  Pradipta Naik.

On March 28, 2016, CM Naveen Patnaik had informed the State Assembly that number of Bangladeshi immigrants in Odisha was 3,837 but Congress has claimed that there are more than 10 lakh such immigrants in the State.

“There are more than 10 lakh immigrants in Odisha and because of them brown sugar trade and business of fake currency are increasing,” alleged Congress MLA Sura Routray.

In Kendrapara's Pasta village, hundreds of Bangladeshis are residing with voter and Aadhaar cards. In Mahakalpada's Ramnagar, Jamboo, Kharinasi, Battighar and Rajnagar's Pentha and Satabhaya area, the number of slums reportedly occupied by immigrants has increased. In  2005, as many as 1551 immigrants were identified in the area and were asked to leave the country, however, the government's order was not implemented, as per reports.

The situation is no different in Balasore's Balaramgadi and Parkhi areas where many immigrants have settled. Apart from that, many Bangladeshi residents are living in Balasore's Adara bazaar,Talasari and Udaypur areas.

“I am originally from Medinipur area of West Bengal and not from Bangladesh,” said Bijoy Mandal, a resident of Pasta area in Mahakalpada.

For preparation of National Register of Indian Citizens in Kendrapara, the Forest and Environment Department had written a letter seeking permission from the central government. However, Kendrapara Collector has said that they are yet to get any permission.

Meanwhile, as the process for census has begun, Joint Director of Census Directorate, Prabhakar Barada, has said that like Assam, Odisha may also come up with NRC.

“The NRC will be an effective method in Odisha in the future,” said Barada.

The final list of the NRC in Assam, released on Saturday, left out over 19 lakh people in the state, rendering them “stateless". NRC is the list of Indian citizens of Assam and was prepared in 1951, following the census of 1951. The process of NRC update was taken up in the state as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. In order to weed out cases of illegal immigration from Bangladesh and other adjoining areas, NRC updating process was carried out.

(With PTI inputs)