A dispute over sharing of relief materials given to people stranded in their homes due to the nation-wide lockdown to combat novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) has led to the exposure of illegal Bangladesh immigrants living on the outskirts of Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai.
According to Shree TV, a YouTube Channel, and a Facebook page Democretic media (sic), the presence of Bangladeshi illegal immigrants on the outskirts of Chennai came to light when a senior party leader of the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) distributed relief materials to a group of Muslims.
The TMMK Deputy General Secretary M Yakub distributed the materials to nine Muslim families residing at Vettiyan Kundru near Pulikoradu falling under the Tambaram police station limits that forms part of the Kanchipuram district on 3 May.
These families, totally comprising 40 persons, had taken one acre of land at a rent of Rs 3,000 a month and were engaged in sorting out garbage and solid wastes at Vettiyan Kundu.
From these garbage and solid wastes, they separated iron, papers, plastics, bottles and other things before selling them to wholesale dealers.
Soon after the relief material was handed over to these illegal immigrants, dispute arose among the nine families in sharing the relief materials, leading to a clash between two groups — one led by a person called Mohammed Azad and another by Rubel Khan.
Following this, Rubel Khan’s wife Nandini lodged a verbal complaint on 5 May at the Tambaram police station.
The police then called both groups for ‘peace talks’ and asked them to go separately elsewhere, vacating the place, as they were likely to clash again.
“Democretic” media said all the families were found to be illegal Bangladeshi citizens when it went to the place to inquire into the incident.
When contacted, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) national council member Veda Subramaniam told Swarajya that following the incident, the presence of more illegal Bangladeshi citizens in Kanchipuram district has come to light.
"There are at least 600 illegal Bangladesh immigrants in just parts of the district,” he said.
Subramanian, who is the party’s convener of the Sriperumbudur Lok Sabha constituency, said at least 1,000 Bangladeshi illegal immigrants could be residing on the outskirts of Chennai.
Tamil Nadu BJP, particularly its President L Murugan, who is a lawyer, is considering legal options to tackle the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants issue.
“We have taken up the issue with the district police and plan to petition Union Home Minister Amit Shah through the State President,” Subramanian said.
He said that when the illegal migrants were asked where they would go, one of the families pointed out that it already had relatives in other parts of Kanchipuram district such as Padur.
A police official, who handled Nandini’s complaint, told Swarajya that the Bangladeshi immigrants had gone elsewhere.
“The Tamil Nadu Q Branch police is now handling the case,” the official said.
Asked how the illegal immigrants were let off, especially when efforts were on to contain the spread of Coronavirus and the Centre was looking to tackle the issue of illegal immigrants, the official said: “They have been here for three years.”
He conceded that no action had been considered against them till now.
Subramanian said the local police were trying to pass the buck saying the immigrants had been in the State for over three years.
These Bangladeshi illegal immigrants had come to Tamil Nadu from Karnataka three years ago after they were helped by a person who worked at a shop in the locality.
Subramanian alleged that the Kanchipuram police were toeing a soft line on the illegal immigrants issue.
“Even during the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, some of the TMMK party workers had raised slogans of murdering Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kanchipuram police, especially the Tambaram police station, tried to hush up the case. We moved the court to force them to take action and police have been forced to register a case,” the BJP leader said.
Political experts point out how the TMMK, which claims to champion the cause of Muslims in Tamil Nadu, was proactive in organising anti-CAA protests and campaigns in Tamil Nadu, especially like the ones at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi.
These protests were held in Tondiarpet and Mannady in north Chennai, besides in other districts of the State.
“If you link the anti-CAA protests and distributing relief materials to the illegal Bangladeshi migrants, it is clear what the TMMK is up to,” said an analyst.
M.R. Subramani is Executive Editor, Swarajya. He tweets @mrsubramani
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