Vol. 5 Num 351 Wed. May 25, 2005  
Front Page

Indian home minister against hyping up illegal Bangladeshi issue

Indian Home Minister Shivraj Patil yesterday said the issue of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the country "should not be raised so much that it spoils relations with the neighbouring country".

"When the country is engaged in confidence building measures with its neighbours like Pakistan and China, raising the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants issue time and again could spoil relations with the neighbour," Patil told reporters in Mumbai.

"This campaign may also hurt Bangla-speaking population in the country, particularly from West Bengal," Patil said, adding that it was the job of the state police to identify illegal immigrants and repatriate them.

The issue of illegal immigrants was discussed at a meeting he had with chief ministers of Gujarat and Maharashtra, sources said.

However, while talking to reporters, Patil maintained silence on the issue discussed at the meeting.

Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, his Gujarat counterpart Narendra Modi, Goa Governor S C Jamir and central and state home department officials attended the meeting.

Meanwhile, about 500 activists of All Assam Minority Students' Association (AMSA) were arrested in northeastern state of Assam when they tried to enforce a day-long bandh (strike) which affected normal life in certain areas.

AMSA called the strike to protest against the "quit" notice issued to suspected Bangladeshi migrants by some youth organisations.