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Assam NRC fallout: Odisha on alert amid possible influx of Bangladeshi immigrants

Bhubaneswar: The exclusion of more than 40 lakh people in final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) prepared by Assam has now triggered concerns that Odisha, which already has a ‘sizeable’ number of Bangladeshis, might see an influx of evicted immigrants from the north-eastern State.

As far as precedent goes, Odisha is considered to be a ‘safe haven’ for immigrants and several Bangladeshis are settled in different parts of the State.

Keeping this in view, Odisha government on Friday directed Police Superintendents of coastal districts and officials of Marine police stations to be on alert to prevent any unauthorized entry to the State through the vast coastline.

From Balasore to Ganjam, Odisha has a coastline that extends up to 476 kms which is vulnerable to illegal entry of immigrants through sea route.

“We have alerted our officials to intensify patrolling and beef up other security measures,” said ADG Coastal Security, Pranabindu Acharya.

As per official records, there are 3,700 Bangladeshi nationals while unofficial sources peg the number of illegal immigrants in Odisha at over 20 lakh. It is being feared that these immigrants could act as a chain in pulling the displaced immigrants from Assam into Odisha.

“If there were 40 lakh Bangladeshi immigrants in Assam, the number would not be less than 20 lakh in Odisha. Odisha is one of the safest for illegal entry as our borders are not checked. Not only illegal immigrants, many hardcore criminals have been caught from Odisha at regular intervals,” said Anil Dhir, National secretary of Bharat Rakshya Manch.

At present, there are 18 marine police stations which keep a vigil on Odisha’s coastline. The police stations are equipped with 15 boats for conducting regular patrolling in sea. However, it had so far failed in containing the influx of Bangladeshi immigrants into the State, said sources.

“If NRC is conducted in Odisha, there would be over 4 lakh Bangladeshi immigrants in Balasore alone. The leaders of ruling party and government officials are helping such immigrants to acquire voter IDs and other documents,” said Manas Kumar Dutta, a resident of Balasore.

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