More than 41 years after India introduced specially designated India-Bangladesh Passport (IBP) for facilitating travel between the two countries, the service became extinct on November 30.
The development follows repeated intelligence inputs that illegal Bangladeshi immigrants could act as terror conduits or pose security threat to the nation. There have been cases wherein these immigrants were caught with fake IBP passports. The issue has been constantly exploited by political parties.
According to records available with the Mumbai Police, 7,698 Bangladeshi nationals have been arrested and 3,009 deported between 2009 and February 2013.
Officials in the ministry of external affairs (MEA) claimed that the demand for IBP has gone down during the past few years.
According to the officials, IBP was started soon after the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
The officials said that as soon as the war broke out, there was a flood of immigration from Bangladesh to India. To streamline the flow of immigrants and also out on sympathetic grounds, India started the IBP to facilitate the movement of people between the two countries. The Mumbai public bus transport service, BEST, had also started collection a small percentage of surcharge from each ticket sold to the commuter.
A similar, passport service was also started for Sri Lankans keeping in mind the civil war in in the country in which lakhs of Tamilians of Indian origin were forced to flee to India. These specially designated passports can be used only for travel to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka and not valid for travelling to any other country.
41-year-old system helped Bengalis
The system prevailed since 1972 after Independence of Bangladesh to ease out the movement of people between the two regions as thousands of Bengalis had migrated from the then East Pakistan following partition of the sub-continent in 1947.