Illegal Migrants Pose Security Threat
One of the major issues the seminar addressed was the illegal influx of population in the
Islands. Speaking at the seminar RVR Murthy, Asst Professor, JNRM said that Illegal migration poses major security threat to the Islands. Excerpts from the paper.
In a paper submitted in the seminar, he said that Andaman and Nicobar islands face greatest challenges today on security front due to large scale illegal immigration from littoral states of Bay of Bengal. In recent years several such attempts aggravate the security of the islands; particularly the aboriginals are the victims of such attempts and they live in constant terror of heavily armed poachers from
Myanmar ( ). The geo-strategic positioning, neighborhood factor, historical experience, long maritime boundaries, etc., makes the islands highly vulnerable to external threats. These externally sponsored security threats for long posed serious problems, both in terms of determinable losses to life and property and more importantly non-quantifiable losses to national will and drain on scarce economic resources. Burma
In recent years 412 Bangladeshi illegal migrants (Rohingyas) left Chittgong by six mechanized boat to enter illegally into
. But these boats were intercepted and detained by Thai Navy in high seas for about four weeks for preliminary investigation. Subsequently, these illegal migrants were transferred to a non-mechanized boat with some bags of rice and released in the high seas off Malaysia coast. 102 persons of Bangladeshi and Thailand nationals after 12 days reached Little Andaman coast. How to deal with hundreds of these illegal migrants is a question to which there are no easy answers, particularly if political parties support and provide asylum for consolidating vote bank. Myanmar
The major challenge for the
is to check illegal immigration. The immigrants are mainly shipped from A&N Islands Bangladesh, Myanmar and . While the demographic characteristics of these islands make it easy for these 'outsiders' to merge with the local populace in the short period, it eventually leads to socio-economic tensions, criminal activity and polarization of society on communal lines. There are also apprehensions of the ISI and Sri Lanka infiltrating these groups for subversive activities, says the paper. China
Demographic invasion from
, has assumed serious security dimension. In many of the Bengali settler areas it has brought about a total demographic transformation, forcing the original inhabitants to leave their resources to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh . Only massive drive by local authorities can check this unwanted influx. This ceaseless increase of population through infiltration and other means assumes a new dimension when it slowly and steadily takes the shape of demographic invasion. The consequent socio-political disturbances can possibly destabilize the entire Andaman and Bangladesh Nicobar islands.
The major role of defence forces stationed in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to protect the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), a vast area of 5,95,217 sq.kms, roughly 30% of total EEZ of the country. There are two basic types of poaching activities prevailing in the region i.e., Poachers from neighboring countries venture into Andaman sea in small boats to the coast for collecting sea-cucumbers, timber, and fishing and crocodile hunting. Secondly, poaching by modern mechanized trawlers of littoral countries was actively involved in drug smugglers and gun runners. Every year poaching activities by foreign poachers usually starts from the first week of June.
have been attracting foreign vessels that illegally fish in its waters, particularly those from the neighbouring Southeast Asian littorals. The 'fetch' from these waters, which abound in varied species of seafood and other marine organisms, is sold back home at very high prices. The easy availability of hi-tech nautical equipment in these countries (radar, refrigeration plants and GPS) miniaturized for small boats, facilitates evasion, endurance and precise navigation. Poaching by foreign fishermen, if unchecked, could lead to depletion of fish stock and ecological imbalance, besides their attendant security implications. Such a threat from non-state actors pose a daunting challenge - if such activities are not interdicted at sea, it would become extremely difficult to take corrective measures. A&N Islands
The entry of foreign poachers in the Tribal Reserve is major concern and there is strong discontent among Tribal population of southern part of
Nicobar Islands. Poachers from littoral countries often visit these remote islands to exploit resources meant for tribals and such contact in the past has often been devastating epidemic disease and sometimes violent conflict with unsympathetic poachers conducting illegal timbering operations. The invasion on their land by poachers from outside and inside poses a serious threat to Primitive tribes, depleting wild foods on which the tribes are totally dependent. Entry to the Tribal reserve by outsiders is illegal. This tragedy must surely galvanize the Andaman administration to act to keep illegal immigrants off the tribal land. An official estimate in the year 2003 reveals that 50,000 foreigners are taken illegal shelter in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. Indeed the unofficial figures are much higher than this. A large number of them were Bangladeshis.
The Andaman and Nicobar islands has immense strategic value and it could be used as a springboard for engagement of the eastern neighbourhood i.e., ASEAN. This would also facilitate building political trust and reinforcing economic ties. Diplomacy and confidence-building would foster security bonds with the maritime neighbours to jointly combat common threats including illegal immigration emanates from littoral countries.