Bengaluru apartment complexes wary of Bangladeshi migrants, want police to verify workers

Ralph Alex Arakal
It is estimated that around 20,000 workers Bengali origin work in apartment complexes located in techie-populous areas in Bengaluru. (Representative Image)

In what is being seen as a reaction to the recent crackdown by the Bengaluru City Police on illegal Bangladeshi migrants, some apartment complexes in the Whitefield-Marathahalli areas have sought police help in determining the 'legal identity' of their Bengali-speaking workers.

Confirming this, a Kundalahalli resident said, "We have written to the top cops of the city to help us verify the identity of Bengali-speaking workers, including househelps, cooks, and security guards. It is difficult to distinguish people hailing from West Bengal from Bangladeshis just on the basis of how they speak the language."

Last week, the police had detained 60 illegal Bangladesh migrants from Marathahall, Bellandur, and Ramamurthy Nagar after a raid by the Central Crime Branch.

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao had clarified then that the arrested would be deported to Bangladesh. He added that all required documents of foreign nationals were being checked and verified as part of police operations to clear illegal immigrants from the state.

It is estimated that a large number (estimates by a local workers union put it at 20,000) of Bengali-origin people work in apartment complexes in Whitefield, Marathahalli, Kadubeesanahalli, Kundalahalli, Panathur, Sarjapur, BTM Layout, Koramangala, Electronic City, and other areas.

Police officers say the task to spot an illegal migrant has become challenging. "While on our raids, we have observed that many daily wage labourers, who are here illegally, have obtained documents such as Aadhaar and Voter ID cards through illegal means," a police officer said.

Following the police raid, there have been reports of some apartment complexes asking agencies not to send them Bengali-speaking workers. However, the Bangalore Apartments' Federation (BAF), a body of Apartment Owners’ Associations (AOA) and Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWA) in the city, told Indianexpress.com that they have not issued any such direction to societies.

"We have taken cognizance of the issue pointed out by some of our members, but no directions on this regard have been made. At present, we are examining the legality of such a move, as it is a matter of the livelihoods of many," Vikram Rai, Treasurer of BAF, said.

He added that discussions with experts across sectors and organisations concerning daily-wage and household workers were underway.

At the same time, another member of an apartment community in Kadubeesanahalli said, "The entire issue has been blown out of proportion in the wake of the state government's statements about implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Now that the government has shelved the idea to create a database of illegal immigrants, such information is being spread only on the basis of rumours. The issue has been raised by very few apartments across the city."

Meanwhile, BAF has asked its member apartments to keep status-quo on the issue, continuing to collect and verify documents of migrant workers — including voter ID cards, Aadhaar cards, and other personal information.