Thursday, August 27, 2009

ID cards won't stop "infiltration"

Meghalaya Chief Minister D.D. Lapang made his intentions crystal clear when he asked that the identity cards be first handed out in districts bordering Bangladesh. Bangla Nation wonders if the chief minister would also hand out identity cards to Bangladeshi citizens, who come under Indian jurisdiction when the Indian Border Security forces crosses the frontier and plant a flag in Bangladesh? Or perhaps he would prefer to simply take the land and deport the rest?

Bangla Nation agrees with the need for identity cards (with some caveats), as Telegraph points out, Meghalaya and Assam have been "illegally infiltrated" over the last several years. CM Lapang has demanded a "peace bonus" (which thoroughly confuses Bangla Nation) to counter militants who are using Meghalaya as a "sanctuary and transit point." Perhaps this peace bonus is the extra battalion of security forces which would act as a second line of defense for the BSF.

Bangla Nation asks defense of what? Bangla Nation thoroughly agrees with the need to protect borders, but why not re-train and increase the pay of your existing troopers? As has been noted, militants cross borders because they can bribe. So rather than bribing one set of troopers, they now have to bribe two. Moreover, an "extra battalion" of security forces is no positive signal to Dhaka especially given the recent incursion (see...).

Washington and London should support the providing of ID cards to Meghalaya's residents (all of them, including the legal Bengali Muslims), their support would probably get the program done faster than the 18 months that is predicted. However, Washington and London (not to mention Dhaka) should strongly object to the extra battalion of security.

If Meghalaya (and Delhi) are serious about curbing illegal migration (or infiltration) then a dialogue must be started. A dialogue that would hopefully build trust and the sharing of information to help mitigate the other's concerns. ID cards and an extra battalion of underpaid border guards won't be enough to stop the infiltration. ID cards can be purchased, just like border guards. Without Delhi-Dhaka dialogue, which won't happen without Delhi's respect for Dhaka territorial integrity, the ID program will fall flat and merely cost money without any real benefits.

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