The Federal

NRC: Fear and dismay at ‘India-Bangladesh border’ in Bengaluru

Mahima Begum and Mohammed Kabir Khan hailing from Khulna district of Bangladesh live in the Kaali Khaata area of Thubarahalli where they segregate garbage for a living. Civic conditions are far worse in Kaali Khaata than in the areas inhabited by Indian Bengali Muslims. All photos by Sudipto Mondal

“That side of the road is Bangladesh, this side is India. We don’t go there and they don’t come here,” says Jamaal Hassan (43), sounding panicky. “The police should go after them, not us. We are Indians, it’s our birthright to live and work here.”

Hassan is one of the 5,000 Bengali-speaking Muslim labourers who live in a confusing maze of tarpaulin and tin shanties in Thubarahalli village located along the tech corridor of East Bengaluru.

The Bengalis have their own names for the clusters in Thubarahalli. The ‘Bangladeshi side’ is called ‘Kaali Khaata’ (Bengali slang for the waste recycling) because garbage segregation is their main occupation. The ‘Indian side’ is called Laal Maati (red earth) where most are employed in the construction sector.

The actual Indo-Bangladesh border is at least 2,000 kilometers away. But the situation in Thubarahalli is as grim as in India’s border states, particularly Assam, where the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was recently updated to identify illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.

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