In a major crackdown on illegal migrants, the Special Branch of Mumbai Police have arrested 154 Bangladeshis who were working as labourers on sites of some of the leading construction companies in the city.
In a two-day operation, the ‘I’ Branch, which falls under the Special Branch, raided construction sites of Reliance Infrastructure, Housing Development & Infrastructure Ltd. (HDIL), Wadhwa Group and another prominent construction company, and arrested the Bangladeshis who were living there illegally.
According to officials from the Special Branch-I, 45 Bangladeshi workers were arrested from HDIL sites, while 47 were arrested from the construction sites of the Wadhwa Group. Another 40 and 22 Bangladeshi workers were arrested from sites of a major construction company and Reliance Energy respectively.
All the 154 illegal migrants have been booked under Sections 3 and 6 of the Passport Act, 1950 and The Foreigners Act, 1946. Police Inspector Jamal Shaikh, who headed the team, said, “They did not have any documents with them, and have been sent to judicial custody. After they serve their sentences, they will be deported back to their country.”
According to police, a manhunt has been launched against the contractors who provided these workers to the companies.
Owing to the upcoming festive season, the ‘I’ Branch – under the guidance of Additional Commissioner of Police (Special Branch) Naval Bajaj – has increased its action against illegal migrants arriving in the city. “We had got a tip-off that some people were staying and working at the sites illegally and hence we raided the sites,” Bajaj confirmed.
Special ‘I’ Branch officials claim that a lot of Bangladeshis, with the help of a prevalent human trafficking network, enter the city illegally and get into unlawful business.
The HDIL in a statement said, “The construction of HDIL projects is outsourced to contractors who are solely responsible for deployment and welfare of workers.
HDIL is not responsible for the verification of the workers provided on site by the independent contractors.”
Likewise, a spokesperson from Reliance Energy said, “The construction contract has been awarded to M/s Shapoorji Pallonji and hence, its their purview and the responsibility to verify authenticity of the people they are deploying on their project.”
He added that Reliance Energy has no role to play and hence is in no way concerned with this. “Nevertheless to say, the matter would be suitably escalated with the contractor to seek clarification from them,” he said.
Speaking to MiD DAY, a spokesperson of Wadhwa Group, said, “It’s a routine check. We’ve given the contract to L&T, and it’s they who are responsible. Certainly they are doing a good job. However, it’s just that some people couldn’t manage to produce required documents asked by the cops.”
According to IB reports, most of the Bangladeshi migrants work as construction labourers or housemaids in the city. Besides, there are several touts who control their movement. The touts even take a cut from their income and help them send the money to their homes in Bangladesh. Since there is no proper record of their movement, it becomes difficult for the investigating agencies to trace them.
Number of Bangladeshis arrested in the city this year