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Bangladeshis are taking over Guj coast

The risk of infiltration along the Gujarat’s slackly guarded coastline is being gravely heightened by the sprouting of a maze of Bangla-deshi settlements

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DWARKA: The risk of infiltration along the Gujarat’s slackly guarded coastline is being gravely heightened by the sprouting of a maze of Bangla-deshi settlements, hundreds of which have already infested the state’s seaboard. Curiously, foreign nationals have now become ‘local residents’, having acquired election and ration cards!

Several villages on the Jamnagar coast have in the past few years seen an influx of Bangladeshis. Residents in at least two of the villages that DNA visited, Harshad Bandar and Rupen Bandar, told us that Bangladeshi fishermen pour in during the fishing season. The residents said many of the Bangla-deshis have now ‘settled down’ in the vicinity.

A senior police officer who is familiar with the area’s changing demographics, said that the Bangla-deshi settlements posed a ‘serious concern’. Earlier, there were no Bangladeshis in the area, the officer said. “They usually go to cities like Delhi or Mumbai to earn money. The government must definitely check what they are doing in this area,”
he said.

While Rupen Bandar, on the outskirts of Dwarka, has around 300 Bangladeshi hamlets, Harshad Bandar, 60km from Dwarka, has around 100. Navadra Bandar, a small village, 7 km from Harshad Bandar, has 25 to 30 settlements. Ghogha, 12 km from Harshad Bandar, has 20 to 25 Bangladeshi hamlets. These have come up over the past five to seven years.

Bangladeshis have secured ration cards and, also registered their names on the voters’ list. A local shopkeeper said, “Bangladeshis are able to get their names on the voters’ list because there is no one to check. Teachers who visit the area to register voters’ names do not verify identities.”

According to a Rupen Bandar resident, “Each season, many Bangladeshi fishermen come here to fish. They are supposed to report to the local police during their stay here.” Bangladeshis come from Kodianar, Somnath and Veraval during the fishing season.

Last season, six Bangladeshis came to Rupen Bandar for fishing, local residents said. This time, only two of them, Badshah Khan and Luhar, have returned. The visitors did not bother to report to the police on this occasion, said a villager.

Jayantibhai Kanani, a resident of Lamba village, adjoining Harshad Bandar, said, “Bangladeshis have 70 residence permits and 200 more are lying with the mamlatdar for verification.”  

In 1996, the police arrested six Bangladeshis, for staying illegally, from the Ashaba peer dargah in the Bandar. Harshadi has, in the past, been under the police scanner for suspicious activities.
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