Bengaluru: The BJP government in Karnataka has proposed introducing the controversial National Register of Citizens (NRC), thus becoming the first state in south India to consider the controversial move to weed out illegal immigrants. After Assam released its NRC list in August, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Haryana and Uttarakhand have also pitched for the NRC.
“We (the state government) have already started the preliminary exercise to prepare the grounds to introduce NRC in Karnataka by collecting all necessary information. After this, we’ll discuss it (NRC) with Union home minister Amit Shah and take a final call within a week or two,” home minister Basavaraj Bommai told reporters.
After a couple of rounds of meeting over the past few weeks, Bommai said he has asked police to prepare a database of illegal immigrants in the state. State home department sources said police have already on the job. The minister said Karnataka is one of the states in which a lot of people from across the border are infiltrating and settling down. According to police sources, the illegal immigrants are largely concentrated in Bengaluru and Malnad districts of Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru, where they mostly work in coffee estates.
In July, Bengaluru South BJP MP Tejasvi Surya had asked the Centre and the home minister in the Lok Sabha to extend the NRC to Karnataka in order to weed out illegal Bangladeshi settlers, alleging “they posed a serious security threat”. Surya had also claimed that then chief minister H D Kumaraswamy had himself admitted that there are more than 40,000 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in Bengaluru alone. “They have taken up jobs illegally, procured Aadhaar cards and voter identity cards with the help of state government authorities. They are now posing a very important security threat to the state,” Surya had said.
As a long-term measure, sources said the government has also proposed setting up a detention centre to house illegal immigrants. “As a rule, police cannot arrest alleged immigrants but they need to be deported. But no country will be ready to accept them and therefore they need to be kept at a detention centre,” said Ganesh Karnik, former vice-president, Karnataka Non-Resident Indians Cell and senior BJP leader.