Friday November 16, 2018
Home India Modi govt in ...

Modi govt in Assam overburdened with providing citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants

1
//
Image source: cnbc.com
Republish
Reprint

Guwahati: The issue of giving citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu migrants in Assam is creating hindrances for Modi government where elections to the 126-member assembly will be held in two months.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi issued a notice in September last year for leasing minors of Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, can stay in the country without any documents.

According to the Indian Home Ministry, the decision was taken under Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and Foreigners Act, 1946.

But the notice is now gathering steam in Assam.

Under the Assam Accord of 1985, anyone who entered from Bangladesh to the state after the midnight of Mar 24, 1971, is considered a foreigner.

Regional political parties such as Asom Gana Parishad, once an ally of the BJP, are opposing the decision of Assam bearing the burden of the migrants. All Assam Students’ Union that spearheaded an anti-foreigners’ agitation from 1979-85 also has the same point of view.

But other organizations like All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation (ABSYF) are building pressure on the Modi government to provide for the citizenship of Bengali Hindu migrants.

The ABSYF has questioned New Delhi to clear the issue and stop ‘playing politics’. Its general secretary, Nirmal Kanti Seal, wondered if the notification on Hindu migrants was just an eyewash.

“The BJP has been promising Indian citizenship for Hindu refugees from Bangladesh but is dragging its feet. In reality, Bengali Hindus staying in Assam are victimised as D-voters,” Seal said.

The ‘D’ in D-voters stands for ‘doubtful’.

Congress, which ruled Assam for 15 years, is also using the notification issue as a major political repellent. The Congress said the notification of joining migrants with Sikhism, Christianity, Hinduism and other religions as a “meaningless document’’.

Ripun Bora, vice-president of the Assam Congress unit, said given that citizenship was the choice of the central government in New Delhi.

“The state has no responsibility in this regard. The Modi government is misleading the people with such a notification that is nothing with the constitutional amendment,” Bora said.

“It is a ploy for garnering votes.”

The Congress leader said his party is not against granting citizenship to Bengali Hindus to have escaped religious harassment in Bangladesh.

“All minorities who have been forced to come to India should be granted citizenship, but Assam alone will not take the burden,” he said.

Bijay Gupta, the BJP general secretary of Assam said the notification allows the migrants to stay until the Indian government takes a final decision on giving citizenship.

“There will be no problem in the Lok Sabha (Lower House of Parliament) regarding the constitutional amendment, but it could get stalled in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) where the BJP does not have majority,” Gupta said.

He also considered it as a decision of law court which government sets up periodically on the issue of detection of foreigners in Assam. (Inputs from bdnews24.com)

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2016 NewsGram

  • Dinesh Dutta

    If somebody is Hindu regardless of which country he/she belongs, Indian citizenship should be given.

Next Story

Rohingyas Repatriation to Myanmar Scrapped by Bangladesh

Negotiations for repatriation have been in the works for months.

0
Rohingya, myanmar
An elderly Rohingya refugee holds a placard during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox's Bazar, in Bangladesh.VOA

Bangladesh’s plans to begin repatriating Rohingya Muslims to Myanmar Thursday were scrapped because officials were unable to find anyone who wanted to return to the country that has been accused of driving out hundreds of thousands in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.

The refugees “are not willing to go back now,” Refugee Commissioner Abul Kalam told The Associated Press. He said officials “can’t force them to go” but will continue to try to “motivate them so it happens.”

Some people on the government’s repatriation list disappeared into the sprawling refugee camps to avoid being sent home, while others joined a large demonstration against the plan.

Rohingya, myanmar
Workers build a Rohingya repatriation center in Gunndum near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. VOA

UN urged a halt to repatriation

More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh from western Myanmar’s Rakhine state since August 2017 to escape killings and destruction of their villages by the military and Buddhist vigilantes that have drawn widespread condemnation of Myanmar.

The United Nations, whose human rights officials had urged Bangladesh to halt the repatriation process even as its refugee agency workers helped to facilitate it, welcomed Thursday’s development.

Firas Al-Khateeb, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in Cox’s Bazar, said it was unclear when the process might begin again.

“We want their repatriation, but it has to be voluntary, safe and smooth,” he said.

Bangladesh officials declined to say whether another attempt at repatriation would be made Friday.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali told reporters in Dhaka late Thursday that “there is no question of forcible repatriation. We gave them shelter, so why should we send them back forcibly?”

Rohingya, myanmar
Rohingya refugee children shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Pleading with Rohingya

At the Unchiprang refugee camp, a Bangladeshi refugee official implored the Rohingya on Thursday to return to their country over a loudspeaker.

“We have arranged everything for you, we have six buses here, we have trucks, we have food. We want to offer everything to you. If you agree to go, we’ll take you to the border, to the transit camp,” he said.

“We won’t go!” hundreds of voices, including children’s, chanted in reply.

Some refugees on the repatriation lists, which authorities say were drawn up with assistance from the UNHCR, said they don’t want to go back.

‘I don’t want to go back’

At the Jamtoli refugee camp, one of the sprawling refugee settlements near the city of Cox’s Bazar, 25-year-old Setara said she and her two children, age 4 and 7, were on a repatriation list, but her parents were not. She said she had never asked to return to Myanmar, and that she had sent her children to a school run by aid workers Thursday morning as usual.

“They killed my husband; now I live here with my parents,” said Setara, who only gave one name. “I don’t want to go back.”

She said that other refugees on the repatriation list had fled to other camps, hoping to disappear amid the crowded lanes of refugees, aid workers and Bangladeshi soldiers, which on Thursday were bustling with commerce and other activity.

Rohingya, Myanmar
Rohingya refugees shout slogans during a protest against the repatriation process at Unchiprang refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

Plan to return 150 a day

Bangladesh had planned to send an initial group of 2,251 back from mid-November at a rate of 150 per day.

Myanmar officials, speaking late Thursday in the capital, Naypyitaw, said they were ready to receive the refugees. Despite those assurances, human rights activists said conditions were not yet safe for the Rohingya to go back.

The exodus began after Myanmar security forces launched a brutal crackdown following attacks by an insurgent group on guard posts. The scale, organization and ferocity of the crackdown led the U.N. and several governments to accuse Myanmar of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Most people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar do not accept that the Rohingya Muslims are a native ethnic group, viewing them as “Bengalis” who entered illegally from Bangladesh, even though generations of Rohingya have lived in Myanmar. Nearly all have been denied citizenship since 1982, as well as access to education and hospitals.

Rohingya, Myanmar
Rohingya refugees cross floodwaters at Thangkhali refugee camp in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar district. VOA

Refugee camps bleak

The refugees survived the ransacking of villages, rapes and killings in Myanmar, but for many, life in Bangladesh’s squalid refugee camps has been bleak.

The refugees who’ve arrived in the last year joined a wave of 250,000 Rohingya Muslims who escaped forced labor, religious persecution and violent attacks from Buddhist mobs in Myanmar during the early 1990s.

Access to education and employment has been far from assured.

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who hopes to retain power in December elections, has repeatedly complained that hosting more than a million Rohingya is taxing local resources.

Negotiations for repatriation have been in the works for months, but plans last January to begin sending refugees back were called off amid concerns among aid workers and Rohingya that their return would be met with violence.

Foreign leaders, including U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, criticized Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi this week on the sidelines of a summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore for her handling of the Rohingya crisis.

Also Read: Rohingya Muslims Remain Fearful Due To Forceful Repatriation

But on Thursday, Pence said that U.S. officials were “encouraged to hear that” the repatriation process would begin.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would continue working with international partners including the U.N. “to ensure that the Rohingya themselves are part of any decisions on their future.” (VOA)