New Delhi: Narendra Modi government may soon pass an ordinance to amend the Citizenship Act making a provision to grant citizenship to persecuted refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The Home Ministry has set up a task force to work on the modalities of granting citizenship to various Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Chakma refugees, according to a report in Times of India.
The ordinance is likely to bring great relief to the persecuted Hindu and other minority people from Bangladesh who have crossed over to West Bengal and Assam.
The legislation is likely to face stiff opposition in the parliament, but according to TOI report, government may attempt to introduce the bill during winter session to send a message to the persecuted refugees especially from Bangladesh that government intends to mainstream them.
The Hindu refugees, who fled to Bangladesh, have placed their hopes on the Modi government
The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s Rakhine state
The Indian government was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting Rohingya Muslims from the country
New Delhi, September 21, 2017: The crossfire between Rohingya insurgents and Myanmar’s military has left hundreds of Hindus, who fled to Bangladesh, placing their hopes on the Indian government.
Around 500 Hindus have taken shelter in a cleared-out chicken farm, in a Hindu hamlet in the southeast of Bangladesh. The place is situated at a distance of a couple of miles, where most of the 421,000 Rohingya Muslims, who also fled violence in Myanmar since August 25, have taken abode, mentions the Reuters report.
The Hindu refugees are scared of moving back to their villages in the Buddhist majority Myanmar’s restless Rakhine state. Modi government, meanwhile, is working to make things easier for Hindus, christians, Buddhists, and other minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh to gain access to Indian citizenship.
“India is also known as Hindustan, the land of the Hindus,” said a Hindu refugee, Niranjan Rudra, “We just want a peaceful life in India, not much. We may not get that in Myanmar or here.”
The fellow refugees agreed and shared their desire of getting this message received by the Indian government through media.
The Indian government, however, has declined to comment on hopes of Hindu refugees. it was waiting for the Supreme Court to hear an appeal against the home ministry’s plans of deporting around 40,000 Rohingya Muslims from India.
Achintya Biswas, a senior member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) also called the World Hindu Council, on the other hand, stated India as the natural destination for the Hindus fleeing Myanmar.
“Hindu families must be allowed to enter India by the government,” Biswas said, according to a report by Reuters, “Where else will they go? This is their place of origin.”
Biswas said the VHP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, would be submitting a report to the home ministry demanding a new policy that would be allowing Hindu refugees from Myanmar and Bangladesh to seek asylum in India.
While India’s Home Ministry spokesman, K.S. Dhatwalia declined to comment, a senior home ministry official in New Delhi, on the condition of anonymity, mentioned that no Hindu in Myanmar or Bangladesh affected by the violence had approached Indian authorities.
“At this juncture we have no SOS calls from Hindus,” the official said.
“Also, the Supreme Court is yet to decide whether India should deport Rohingya Muslims or not. The matter is sub-judice and any policy decision will be taken only after the court’s order.”
Hindus form a small but an established minority in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Rudra along with other Hindu refugees talked about how they fled soon after Rohingya insurgents attacked 30 Myanmar police posts, instigating a fierce military counterattack.
“Our village in Myanmar was surrounded by hundreds of men in black masks on the morning of Aug. 25,” said Veena Sheel, a mother-of-two whose husband works in Malaysia.
“They called some men out and asked them to fight the security forces … a few hours after we heard gunshots,” she added.
Soon after taking office in 2014, the Modi government issued orders stating that no Hindu, or refugees of other minority from Bangladesh and Pakistan would be deemed as illegal immigrants even if they had entered the country without having the required documents, on or before December 31, 2014.
India, indeed, is in a tough situation, where it can’t compromise with the principles it holds being a Secular nation that is always engaged in humanitarian activities, but will also need to keep in mind the potential security threats that might come along with such an act of acceptance.
-prepared by Samiksha Goel of NewsGram. Twitter @goel_samiksha
Monsoon rains have caused mighty rivers such as the Brahmaputra and their tributaries to burst their banks, forcing people into relief camps in states such as Gujarat, Assam and Rajasthan. More than 2 million are affected
NEW DELHI, August 5, 2017: Tens of thousands of undocumented Chakma refugees in India’s remote northeast desperately need basic aid such as shelter, food and clean water as monsoon floods inundate villages and submerge crops, the charity World Vision said Thursday.
More than 224 people have died in western and northeastern parts of India and millions have been affected by floods that have washed away homes, devastated large swaths of farmland, destroyed roads, and disrupted power and phone lines.
Monsoon rains have caused mighty rivers such as the Brahmaputra and their tributaries to burst their banks, forcing people into relief camps in states such as Gujarat, Assam and Rajasthan. More than 2 million are affected.
But World Vision said that while response efforts by authorities in states such as Gujarat have been commended, the welfare of undocumented Chakma refugees living in far-off Mizoram state, bordering Myanmar and Bangladesh, is a concern.
“The floods have affected some of the most vulnerable — migrant workers, farmers and children. The devastation in Mizoram is immense. The people who live along the riverbanks are mostly refugees and live in abject poverty,” said Kunal Shah, World Vision India’s director of disaster management.
“Without identification papers, they receive no state support. These people are stuck in a no-man’s land invisible to the media and government. They are not recognized by either the Indian or Bangladeshi governments and therefore do not qualify for assistance,” he added in a statement.
India usually experiences monsoon rains from June to September. The rains are vital for agriculture, which accounts for 18 percent of gross domestic product and provides employment for almost half the country’s 1.3 billion population.
But in many states, the rains frequently trigger landslides and cause rivers to overflow; flooding in turn forces millions into temporary camps, ruins crops and exposes people to disease.
The Chakma are an ethnic group scattered in India’s Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal states, as well as in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh and western parts of Myanmar.
They began fleeing to northeastern India from former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, in the 1960s, but have few rights, and many are not registered with the U.N. refugee agency.
World Vision said getting aid — dry food rations, tarpaulin sheets and sanitary towels — to flood survivors in remote, forested areas was a challenge, because roads have been destroyed.
“Reaching out to the most affected people was really tough. It took us two days by car and a two-hour boat trip to reach the remote villages,” said Shah.
“These isolated communities live in densely forested areas,” he added. “The scant roads that existed before the floods were washed away by landslides. As we floated along the river to the reach the Chakma communities, we saw their houses smashed to bits.” (VOA)
There appears to be no better way to describe it: a complete failure of leadership. Having traveled to Bengali villages and major power centers for the past ten years, as well as advocating for their interests in Washington and elsewhere, it is clear that the institutions charged with protecting and providing for Bengal’s Hindus have failed them utterly.
To be sure, groups like Tapan Ghosh’s Hindu Samhati maintain a presence among the people and advocate tirelessly for them. There are also courageous individuals—both Hindu and otherwise—who do not shrink from this crucial human rights battle. In the decades I have spent all over Bengal’s villages and cities, I have never once seen a member of the recognized leadership anywhere near the people. Nor have they taken any action or even expressed justified outrage when people (including but not only me) presented evidence of the people’s victimization.
I wondered if that perception was my own failure until late February. In an out of the way restaurant in Kolkata, I sat with a man I am proud, calls me a brother: Rabindra Ghosh, the advocate who puts his life on the line every day to document the persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh and to let the Bangladeshi government know that its complicity does not go unnoticed. Both government and Islamists have attacked him; just as many of them have openly or cravenly tried to vilify me. During our meeting, Advocate Ghosh mentioned that Hindu and Indian political leaders he addressed responded to his thick dossier of information with, ‘we will see what we can do,’ code words meaning that they will take no action. He, too, noted that in his decades of on-site investigation of anti-Hindu atrocities and other actions, he has never seen a Hindu leader or heard from any of the people that those who claim to be leaders were there or provided any help whatsoever.
In February, I spent time in Bengali villages where Hindus were attacked, their homes destroyed, and Mandirs desecrated; while governments in East and West Bengal did nothing to stop or prosecute these crimes. And not once did any of the victims tell me that help arrived from the government, their Hindu leadership, or those political parties that claim to be their protectors.
I am not a Hindu but love the Hindu community as much as anyone does. My years-long commitment to stopping the ethnic cleansing of Hindus in Bangladesh and elsewhere is testimony to it. Good friends, however, are supposed to be able to speak frankly to one another; and it is my sad task to tell my Hindu brothers and sisters that your leadership has failed you—utterly and completely. While a Jew is Public Enemy Number One for Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina and her advisors because of his struggle to save Hindus in Bangladesh and refusal to stop fighting; Hindu MPs sit mutely in parliament, caring more for their own creature comforts than for justice for their people. Those of us who continue the struggle have come to recognize that sadly, we cannot count on this leadership and have determined new strategies in the face of it.
As a child, I learned about the Nazi Holocaust that sent a third of my people to horrible deaths. The more I learned, however, the more I realized that the Nazis were not the real drivers of these atrocities; there were too few of them to do so much evil. It was those “good people” who remained silent in the face of evil that enabled the holocaust to happen.
I challenge Hindu leaders and Indian political leaders to ask themselves—honestly and seriously—if they are repeating history while Hindus in East and West Bengal are persecuted with impunity and face possible obliteration in the land of their ancestors. What excuses will they make if the worst happens?
Dr. Richard Benkin is an American Jewish human rights activist who is currently working on a mission to stop atrocities on Hindus in Bangladesh. Twitter: @drrbenkin