3 lakh illegal Bangladeshis in Bengaluru: City top cop

3 lakh illegal Bangladeshis in Bengaluru: City police commissioner Bhaskar Rao

Makeshift dwellings at Kariyammana Agrahara that officials claim belong to Bangladeshi migrants. DH file photo

City police commissioner Bhaskar Rao said that there are as many as three lakh illegal Bangaldeshi migrants in the city and that their numbers are rising. He added that many are victims of human trafficking and are being channeled into the construction sector.

Speaking on Wednesday during a discussion on construction labourers at Indian Institute of Management (IIM) attended by the Labour Minister Suresh Kumar, senior officers and trade union leaders, Rao attributed the development of the city’s glittering skyline to legions of “unnamed, unheard, unregarded souls who toil for 12-14 hours” a day.

“Lately, a large number of Bangladeshis are entering the construction labour force in the city. It is nothing but rampant trafficking and the day will come when we will run short of labourers in one of the most populous countries in the world. That is because the number of local people taking part in labour construction is low,” Rao said.

He pointed out that Bangaldeshis are often willing to work for even Rs 150 at a time when Indian workers demand upwards of Rs 300 and Rs 600.

“This has made them attractive to human traffickers. Unscrupulous builders, contractors, traffickers, and labour mafia are reaping a rich financial harvest as a result,” he said.

When asked by DH how many illegal Bangaldeshis were employed by the construction industry, the police commissioner said he did not know, but that it was a significant number.

He called on the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (Credai) to take cognisance of the numbers.

Suresh Hari, the chairman of Credai Bengaluru, said his organisation did not have clarity on the issue. “We just do not know how many of these migrants are working in the city,” he said.

However, Zia Nomani, youth president of Swaraj India, which works with migrant populations, said there was a tendency by the police to assume that all migrant workers, even if they are Indians, are Bangaldeshis.

“In our experience, police investigations of crimes against migrants do not reach logical ends because of this blanket assumption,” he said.

No reportage of sex crimes

The police commissioner painted a grim picture of Bangladeshi migrants dwelling in substandard conditions in ghettos, because of the threat of being evicted. “Fears over imminent detention by police even prompted 3,000 Bangladeshis to recently self-deport back to their country,” he said.

This fear of expulsion is allegedly coupled with a high number of sex crimes that these communities are being subject too. “A huge number of women and teenage girls are exploited sexually, and they have no idea how to report these crimes. They think it is the order of the day. We have also come across men molesting small children, and this does not get reported at all,” he said. 

Among male-dominated migrant communities, police said they have noticed incidences of homosexuality. “A lot of murders have taken place in the city on account of this,” he added.

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