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November 2015 issue
Fences & Forces India's attempt at curbing illegal immigration  along its border with Bangladesh.
by Shib Shankar Chatterjee
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In late 2009, I wrote in an article suggesting that the trump card for wining an election in a significant number of Parliamentary Constituencies (PCs) and Assembly Constituencies (ACs) in India – in states such as Assam, West Bengal, Meghalaya, Bihar, Maharashtra and even Delhi – lay in the hands of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Almost three years later, the case is the same. In Assam, for instance, Bangladeshi immigrants are the majority in 11 of the 27 districts. According to Indian intelligence reports, Bangladeshi immigrants dominate as many as 40-46 of the 126 ACs  in Assam, and that number is expected to rise to 54 by 2015, enabling Bangladeshi voters to potentially appoint a chief minister of their own in the state government.   In order to control illegal immigration from Bangladesh – and other activities such as illegal trade, cross-border insurgency, human trafficking, religious fundamentalism, and arms and drugs smuggling – the Government of India has erected a barbed-wire fence along its 4096.70 kilometre border with Bangladesh.   Monitoring the international borders are frontier guards, known as the Border Security Force of India (BSFI), considered one of the world’s largest international border patrol forces.   Yet, the situation in India today – especially in Assam, Meghalaya, West Bengal and Tripura – is that tensions are rising. With BSFI soldiers unable to contain illegal border activities, indigenous people increasingly feel invaded and insecure. If the governments of India and Bangladesh leave the issue of illegal immigration solely to wire fences and ineffective border forces, ethnic violence is sure to escalate in the Indian Northeast in the near future. All pictures are copyright protected.
Soldiers of the International Border Security Force (IBSF), Border Security Force of India (BSFI) patrol/stand guard in Satrasal village of Dhubri district in Eastern Indian State, Assam that lies on the India-Bangladesh International Border.
Soldiers of the International Border Security Force (IBSF), Border Security Force of India (BSFI) patrol/stand guard in Bishkhowa (adjacent Kedar) village of Dhubri district.
On patrol/standing guard in Sonahat village of Dhubri district.
Boraibari village of Dhubri district.
Chetak village.
Nalia village.
Diara village.
The Central Public Works Department of India (CPWDI) workers fencing the International Barbed Wire Border Fence (IBWBF) on the Indo-Bangla International Border at Khowai.
Sadelerkuti village of Coochbehar district.
Patrol by Speed-Boat at Old Dewaner-Alga village of Dhubri district.
Boat patrol. Patamari village of Dhubri district.
Soldiers of Indian Border Security Force (IBSF), Water Wing Division’s strict vigil in open India-Bangladesh International Riverine Border at International Riverine Border Village (IRBV), Gachhpara.
Dog Squad at Sonamura village.
Checking villagers in Sahebganj village.
Checking villagers - everyone from the very old to the very young. Lakhimari village.
Checking villagers. Lakhimari village.