India’s Modi vows to halt illegal immigrants from Bangladesh

Updated 01 December 2014

India’s Modi vows to halt illegal immigrants from Bangladesh

NEW DELHI: India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday stepped up his rhetoric against illegal immigration from Bangladesh, vowing to halt the unauthorized flow of citizens from the neighboring country into the northeastern state of Assam.
At election rallies before he became prime minister in May, the Hindu nationalist leader repeatedly called for tighter border controls and warned illegal immigrants from Bangladesh to have their “bags packed.”
The calls prompted a strong reaction from Bangladesh, and its feathers are likely to be ruffled again by his latest comments to a party rally in Assam, where religious tension has been growing after massacres of Muslims in the past two years.
“I will make such an arrangement that all the roads that are today helping Bangladeshis enter and destroy Assam are closed,” Modi said at the event organized by his Bharatiya Janata Party, which is looking to make inroads into the state.
“To ensure this, even a transfer of land will be used.”
India and Bangladesh have been negotiating a land swap for years to resolve a long-running border conflict. Modi said a swap would help Assam permanently resolve the immigration issue that has dominated its political landscape for decades.
“On the issue of land transfer, I know and understand the sentiments of the people of Assam,” Modi added. “Whatever we do, there might be a perception of a short-term loss, but ultimately Assam will gain in the long run.”

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das)


10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

Updated 14 min 12 sec ago

10,000 homeless after fire razes Bangladesh slum

  • The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks
  • Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures

DHAKA: At least 10,000 people are homeless after a massive fire swept through a crowded slum in the Bangladesh capital and destroyed thousands of shanties, officials said Sunday.
The fire broke out at in Dhaka’s Mirpur neighborhood late on Friday and razed around 2,000 mostly tin shacks, fire services official Ershad Hossain said.
“I could not salvage a single thing. I don’t know what will I do,” 58-year-old Abdul Hamid, who ran a tea stall inside the slum, said as he broke down in tears.
Authorities eventually got the blaze under control and no-one was killed, although several people had minor injuries, firefighters said.
Many residents — largely low-income garment factory workers — were not in the slum as they had left their homes to celebrate the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday with their families.
“Otherwise, the damage would have been bigger,” local police chief Golam Rabbani said.
Around 10,000 people have taken refuge in crammed camps at nearby schools closed for the weeklong holiday, according to Hossain.
“We are providing them with food, water, mobile toilets, and electricity supply,” municipal official Shafiul Azam said, adding that authorities were trying to find permanent accommodation.
Some families have erected tarpaulins to shelter them from bouts of rain during the monsoon season, but the wet conditions have turned the fields muddy.
Experts say fires are frequent in Dhaka due to lax safety measures.
At least 100 people have been killed so far this year in building fires across the densely populated metropolitan city.
In 2012, a fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented victims from escaping.
A 2010 fire in Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.