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Muslims say they are more likely to be deported than Hindus from Indian border to Bangladesh

An Indian supporter of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) holds a placard during a protest against what participants say is the illegal migration of Muslims from Bangladesh to the northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 18, 2012. Source: VOA
  • For the past 25 years, border police in Assam are trying to catch illegal Bengali-speaking immigrants who settled in the region after March 1971
  • The Assam border police identify suspected Bangladeshis and asks for citizenship proof if they fail to provide it they sent the case to Foreigner’s Tribunal
  • But there are man cases where the border police were biased against Muslims despite having proof of citizenship
  • One such case is of Bengali Muslim Mainal Mollah, who despite showing various documents that his family stayed in Assam for generations, the border police still referred the case to the Foreigner’s Tribunal which declared him an illegal immigrant

September 10, 2016: Bengali Muslim Mainal Mollah considers himself lucky. Although a foreigners tribunal in India’s northeastern Assam state declared him an illegal immigrant, he managed to walk out of a detention camp last month, after languishing there for three years.

“A foreigners tribunal declared that I was a foreigner and sent me to a detention camp from where I was to be pushed back to Bangladesh. This happened very strangely in my case after another tribunal had declared that my parents were Indian citizens,” Mollah said.

“Some rights activists took my case to the big court [Supreme Court in Delhi] and finally I came out of the camp. I am lucky that I did not die in the camp, where in horrible condition many perished before me, and that I didn’t have to go through a traumatizing situation of being pushed back to Bangladesh.”

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Despite several documents showing his family had lived in Assam for generations, Mollah landed in the detention camp to be sent to Bangladesh, said Aman Wadud, with the civil rights group MY-FACTS.

“There are documents showing that Moinal Mollah’s grandfather had held land in Assam in 1938. The names of Moinal’s father, grandfather and great-grandfather figured in the National Register of Citizens of 1951. After a tribunal had declared him a foreigner, Moinal produced all the related documents before the Honorable Gauhati High Court, while filing writ petitions,” Wadud, a human rights lawyer, told VOA.

“But, the Honorable High Court upheld the tribunal’s verdict and ordered his deportation to Bangladesh.”

Indian citizens victimized

After the Supreme Court in July ordered a retrial for Mollah’s case, MY-FACTS managed to get him out of the detention camp on bail. Wadud said he was hopeful that Mollah will be declared an Indian citizen soon.

For more than a century, Hindus and Muslims have moved from the region that is now Bangladesh to Assam to earn their living. But India regards any Bengali-speaking people who settled in Assam after March 1971 to be illegal immigrants.

The Assam Border Police identify suspected Bangladeshis and send their cases to the foreigner’s tribunal if they fail to produce citizenship documents. Last month, the police reported that in 25 years the tribunals had declared about 53,000 people to be foreigners.

Rights activists say, however, many of those people often are Indian citizens who get caught in miserable situations.

“The Border Police are supposed to conduct investigations before forwarding the Reference Cases to the tribunals. But, rarely do they investigate the cases at this point. They often file the cases against people despite [the fact] they have all valid Indian citizenship documents, because of a communal bias and also when they fail to extort the demanded bribes from the poorer victims,” Wadud said.

Migrant Muslim women are seen at a health mission in Baralakhaiti village, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Gauhati, Assam State, India, Feb. 10, 2014. Source: VOA
Migrant Muslim women are seen at a health mission in Baralakhaiti village, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) north of Gauhati, Assam State, India, Feb. 10, 2014.
Source: VOA

“So, it’s easy to figure out why over 95 percent of the people, who were identified as suspected citizens by border police in the past few years, have been declared Indian citizens by the tribunals. … That the Muslims are becoming victims of a bias is clear from the fact that over 80 percent of the Reference Cases involved Muslims,” Wadud added.

Residency for non-Muslims

Assam Muslim community leader Hafiz Ahmed told VOA that since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed the Assam government in May, an increasing number of Indian Muslims are being targeted.

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“Previously they identified only the Bengali-speaking people as suspected Bangladeshis. But since BJP took charge of Assam, even the indigenous Assamese Muslims, who do not speak Bengali and had their forefathers living here for over several centuries are being suspected as illegal Bangladeshis,” Ahmed, who leads the All India Secular Forum in Assam, said.

A BJP spokesperson in Assam, Jayanta Malla Baruah, said the state government has never taken any action that shows that it is biased against Muslims.

Indian Muslim men shout slogans during a protest against tensions in India's northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 8, 2012. Source:VOA
Indian Muslim men shout slogans during a protest against tensions in India’s northeastern state of Assam, in New Delhi, India, Aug. 8, 2012.

“The previous Congress [Party]-led government was lax in action against the illegal immigrants. But our new government in Assam is acting properly, following the orders of the foreigner’s tribunals. It’s incorrect if someone finds anything anti-Muslim in these actions,” Baruah said.

Nationwide, the BJP-led Indian government announced in June that it was working toward granting citizenship to non-Muslims who, after facing religious persecution in Pakistan and Bangladesh, came to India and settled here by 2014.

Prasenjit Biswas, a professor at North Eastern Hill University in Shillong, India, noted that government promises of residency rights for non-Muslims have widened the contrast in how a suspected Bangladeshi Hindu compared to a suspected Bangladeshi Muslim is treated in Assam.

“Although the rule of law in India does not allow any such discrimination in the name of religious identities, yet in the name of religious persecution, Hindus are being given a right to residence, while denying the same to Muslims on the basis of their religion. This has created a lot of fear and has cast a shadow of insecurity in the social psyche of the Muslims,” Biswas said. (VOA)

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7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

Places to visit in North East India.
Places to visit in North East India. Pixabay

North Eastern India, the home to the ‘Seven Sisters’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions, yet the most unexplored part of the country. From Shillong’s rainfall to Assam’s beautiful tea gardens, the region is indeed the home to exotic beauty. However, the tourism of the region has gained pace in the recent years. The picturesque views of the streams, hills and farms are breathtaking.

Here is the list of 7 beautiful places to visit in North East India:

1. Kaziranga National Park

places to visit in North East India
Kaziranga National Park. Pixabay.

Kaziranga national park in Assam is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is the most famous tourist spot & one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. The place has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Hundreds of migratory birds and around 35 species of mammals fly down every season to the national park. The incredible fauna cannot be found anywhere else in India.

2. Nathula Pass

Places to visit in North East India.
Nathula Pass. Wikimedia.

A trek on the Nathula Pass in Sikkim will give you a memory completely irreplaceable. The beautiful scenic views which you will observe through your trek journey can be found nowhere else in India & makes if one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. A vacation to this place with your family during the summers is a must. Also the fact that a bearable temperature in the summer season will let you enjoy your trek more. A trek in the Nathula pass should right away be added to your bucket list.

3. Cherrapunji

Places to visit in North East India.
Cherrapunji. Wikimedia.

Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the world’s wettest place. The place is known for receiving the maximum rainfall in the world. And, the weather of the place adds to its beauty. It is definitely one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India.

Also Read: 5 Inspiring Travel Stories That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

4. Phodong Monastery

Places to visit in North East India.
Phodong Monastery. Wikimedia.

According to reports, the Phodong monastery in Sikkim is built in the 18th century. It situated 28 kms from Gangtok. It is known to be one of the most religious places for a sect of Buddhists. The place is a residence to around 260 monks. The place is full of positive energy. The people around the monastery are amicable and have some interesting stories in their pockets to tell you. The architecture of the monastery depicts a unique culture and beauty. These characteristics make this monastery, one of the beutiful places to visit in North East India. So grab your tickets soon!

5. Dampa Tiger Reserve

places to visit in North East India
A bird in the Dampa Tiger Reserve. Wikimedia.

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram & a must visit place in north east india. The Tiger Reserve is a home to leopards, barking deer, sloth bear, langurs, Indian Python and a variety of birds. The fauna and flora of the place will leave you stunned.

6. Majuli Islands

Places to visit in North East India.
Majuli Island. Wikimedia.

A river island situated along the Brahmaputra is a home to many tribes. A variety of birds can be found on the island. The size of the island has been reduced due to river erosion by the Brahmaputra.

7. Shilloi lake

Places to visit in North East India.
Shilloi Lake. Wikimedia.

Shilloi lake, the largest natural lake in Nagaland situated in the state’s Phek district is covered by picturesque views including beautiful mountain peaks and trees. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer season. The beauty of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in North East India.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

 Twitter: @ImMeghaacharya. 


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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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Indo-Pak Peace Talks Futile Unless Islamabad Sheds Links with Terrorism, says Study

A Study by a U.S. think tank calls India and Pakistan talks futile, until Pakistan changes its approach.

India and Pakistan
India and Pakistan. Wikimedia.

A Top United States of America (U.S.) think tank, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace called the relations between India and Pakistan futile, unless Islamabad changes its approach and sheds its links with Jihadi terrorism.

A report “Are India and Pakistan Peace Talks Worth a Damn”, authored by Ashley J Tellis stated that such a move supported by foreign countries would be counterproductive and misguided.

The report suggests that International community’s call for the India and Pakistan talks don’t recognize that the tension between the two countries is not actually due to the sharp differences between them, but due to the long rooted ideological, territorial and power-political hatred. The report states that these antagonisms are fueled by Pakistani army’s desire to subvert India’s powerful global position.

Tellis writes that Pakistan’s hatred is driven by its aim to be considered and treated equal to India, despite the vast differences in their achievements and capabilities.

Also ReadMilitant Groups in Pakistan Emerge as Political Parties : Can Violent Extremism and Politics Co-exist? 

New Delhi, however, has kept their stance clear and mentioned that India and Pakistan talks cannot be conducted, until, the latter stops supporting terrorism, and the people conducting destructive activities in India.

The report further suggests that Pakistan sees India as a genuine threat and continuously uses Jihadi terrorism as a source to weaken India. The report extends its support to India’s position and asks other international powers, including the U.S., to extend their support to New Delhi.

Earlier in September, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) slammed Pakistan for its continuous terror activities. She attacked the country by saying that India has produced engineers, doctors, and scholars; Pakistan has produced terrorists.

Sushma Swaraj further said that when India is being recognised in the world for its IT and achievements in the space, Pakistan is producing Terrorist Organisations like Lashkar-e-Taiba. She said that Pakistan is the world’s greatest exporter of havoc, death and inhumanity.

-by Megha Acharya  of NewsGram. Megha can be reached at @ImMeghaacharya.