Vikash Sharma

Kendrapara: The focus is back on Bangladeshi immigrants after the Centre recommended update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Kendrapara district.

In a letter to Registrar General Of India, Union Ministry of Home Affairs had stressed the need for the NCR in Kendrapara district based on the report given by amicus curiae Mohit Agarwal appointed by the Orissa High Court.

Though the directorate of Census maintains that necessary steps will be taken based on the directions of the Centre, it has already created panic among people mostly in Mahakalpada area.

Meet Gita of Posta village in Mahakalpara. Gita’s orginal name is Gita Maal who is staying here for the last 45 years. In these years, Gita’s surname has changed to Maal from Malla. Gita is not the sole case as several immigrants have settled at several places including Ramnagar, Kharnasi, Batighar and other villages in the district.

“I have been staying here for long. All my identity is changed and who will listen now,” said Gita.

Though many of them admit their roots to be in Bangladesh, several others like 70-year-old Amal Sikdar stated that as the Centre allotted space and permitted us to stay here, how can it term us an immigrants?

“Now they are saying we are illegal immigrants. But we had got settlement rights from Centre. Where we will go as we do not know anybody in Bangladesh,” said Sikdar.

As per government records, 1,551 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants were identified in Kendrapara and served notices for repatriation. Though such orders are yet to be executed, the population of illegal immigrants has seen a steep rise in the district.

Sources said, illegal Bangladeshi immigrants have intruded into the district by sea route via Bhitarkanika and no steps have been taken against them due to lack of political will.

"As they are staying in Kendrapara and we are extending govt benefits as we are treating them as citizens of Kendrapara. But when NCR will be implemented, we will treat and conduct inquiry as per different norms,” said Kendrapara ADM, Basant Kumar Rout.

“We do not have any concrete information as of now and we will take steps if any directions come,” Prabhakar Barad, joint secretary, directorate of Census.