“At least 4,896 Bangladeshi nationals were held while trying to enter India from the neighbouring country during the same period, i.e., 1 January 2019 to 28 April 2022,” it said further.

Thus, 14,361 Bangladeshi nationals were intercepted crisscrossing the border in just over three years.

The report found that the maximum number of illegal migrants entering or leaving India is from South Bengal border. A majority -- 11,034 Bangladeshi nationals out of total 14,361 held at International Border (IB) during the infiltration attempts -- were held at South Bengal border.

A senior BSF officer said that around 80 per cent of the illegal immigrants entering or leaving India from Bangladesh take place in the southern parts of Bengal owing to the unfenced and riverine borders. South Bengal border runs from Sundarbans to Malda.

India shares a 4,096-km-long boundary with Bangladesh of which South Bengal Frontier shares 913.32 kms, of which more than 50 per cent is either unfenced or riverine in nature, at certain places, where the villages are right on the IB making it difficult for the security forces to detect infiltration.

Most of the illegal immigrants were lured of better employment, pay and quality life in India and they were asked to pay a large sum to assist them in illegally crossing the International Boundary
A senior BSF officer

A senior official from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) added that over the period they have changed their approach while dealing with the problem.

“To deal with illegal immigration problem at Bangladesh borders, we have asked security forces to hand them over to the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) as a goodwill gesture, after verifying if they were not involved in any criminal activities in India. Because there was no purpose of putting them in jail,” he said.

Most of the people who crossed over the border illegally have come in search of livelihood, he added.

In December 2019, after the Parliament cleared Citizenship (Amendment) Act, there was surge in migration of illegal immigrants. In the year 2020, only 1,214 immigrants attempted to enter India while 3,463 left the country.

A nationwide lockdown was also enforced in the same year because of the Covid-19. This too is believed to have impacted the illegal movement.

A senior BSF officer said they held men, women and children while they were attempting to cross over to India. Touts active on both sides of the border assisted them in the cross over.

“Most of the illegal immigrants were lured of better employment, pay and quality life in India and they were asked to pay a large sum to assist them in illegally crossing the International Boundary,” said the officer.

He added that in the last few years, the infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals has curbed down because of better border management like coordination with Bangladesh counterpart, fencing at border and technology supported patrolling.

Another officer said that there is substantial incidents in which people are illegally trying to cross the international border and enter Bangladesh.

“We won’t call it exodus but crackdown of various government agencies on illegal immigrants, all over the country, that have forced many of them (immigrants) to leave and go back to their country,” he said.

The effective border management system not only shot down cases of infiltration but also brought down the cases of cattle smuggling and smuggling of drugs from the Indo-Bangladesh border.

The BSF officers added that they have more than 85 per cent of fencing along the India-Bangladesh border. But at some damaged places, they are replacing the fencing with Anti Cut-Anti-Climb.