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

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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
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  • 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.
Source:VOA

“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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  • amrik

    Errr… wasnt it muslims that wanted their own land?

    • asit guin

      During British rule , upto 1947 15th august, human thoughts were not normal.

  • login2ak

    Modus Operandi of Muslims in Subcontinent…. Invade land, reproduce without any barrier, don’t bother focusing on education, become majority in certain regions, demand separate country, forcefully secede territories driving out native populace, become a failed state in 50 years with an over-populating demographic, start invading neighboring lands … and repeat the entire process again.

    • asit guin

      Myanmar is deporting Muslims to bangl. from Bangladesh, Hindus are being deported everyday. are these funs ? What UNO is doing ?

  • amrik

    Errr… wasnt it muslims that wanted their own land?

    • asit guin

      During British rule , upto 1947 15th august, human thoughts were not normal.

  • login2ak

    Modus Operandi of Muslims in Subcontinent…. Invade land, reproduce without any barrier, don’t bother focusing on education, become majority in certain regions, demand separate country, forcefully secede territories driving out native populace, become a failed state in 50 years with an over-populating demographic, start invading neighboring lands … and repeat the entire process again.

    • asit guin

      Myanmar is deporting Muslims to bangl. from Bangladesh, Hindus are being deported everyday. are these funs ? What UNO is doing ?

Next Story

All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border.

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Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • The Chabahar Port is of great strategic importance for India
  • It is in Iran and is being built and operated by India
  • This port will increase India’s trade with Central Asia and Europe

The Chabahar Port is a seaport in Chabahar, which is on the Gulf of Oman, near Iran-Pakistan border. Chabahar is the trans-shipment and logistics hub for the Makran Coast and Baluchistan province of Iran.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The tension between India and Pakistan is nothing new. There are several instances where both the countries have tried to obstruct each other’s political or economic agendas. This obstruction, along with other strategic reasons, resulted in the India and Iran’s deal on the Chabahar Port, which is crucial because of several reasons.

Here are few things about it you may not have known before :

  • Under the Trilateral Transit and Transport Agreement of 2016, the Chabahar port is the gateway to the Transport Corridor between India, Iran and Afghanistan, which allows multi-modal goods’ and passengers’ transport.

Also Read: India and Iran sign agreement to develop Chabahar Port

  • The agreement also states that India will develop and operate two berths in the first phase of the port. The contract is for 10 years and extendable. This time period excludes the first two years as they will be used for construction.
Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port’s first phase, which was developed by India, and inaugurated by Iran on 4th December 2017, is of great strategic importance as it makes it easier for India to conduct trade with Central Asia and Europe.
  • Iran’s Chabahar port is also important for India’s trade because of Pakistan’s reluctance in allowing India to send goods to Iran and Afghanistan through its land territory.

Also Read: Gwadar Port: China Turning Pakistan Port Into Regional Giant 

  • The development of Chabahar Port will increase the momentum of the International North-South Transport Corridor whose signatories include India, Afghanistan and Russia. Iran is the key gateway in this project. It will improve India’s trade with Central Asia as well as Europe.
    The Chabahar Port has also reduced Afghanistan’s dependence on the transit road, which went through Karachi. Now, trade can be conducted via Chabahar Port too. Islamabad has accused India of trying to use this development as a means to destabilise Pakistan.

    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
    The Chabar Port is the said to be the counter to the Gwadar Port. Wikimedia Commons
  • The Chabahar Port also acts as a counter to the barely 100 km away, Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is developed by China. However, Iran has defended that Chabahar is not a rival to Gwadar and Pakistan is invited to join in its development.
  • In October 2017, India sent its first shipment of wheat to through Chabahar to Afghanistan, in order to test the viability of the route.
  • India will also construct a 900-km Chabahar-Zahedan-hajigak railway line that will connect Port of Chabahar to Hajigak in Afghanistan. It will also connect Mashad in the north, providing access to Turkmenistan as well as northern Afghanistan.This project is worth $1.6 billion.

    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehrain. Wikimedia Commons
    India will supply $400 million worth of steel rails to Tehran. Wikimedia Commons
  • It is being said that India will supply $400 million of steel rails to Tehran. There are also possibilities of setting up a fertilizer plant through a joint venture with the Iranian government.