Centre to give Indian citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu migrants

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Us and them? ‘Illegal’ migrants rounded up by AASU in Dibrugarh, Photos: UB Photo

Ever since the Modi government assumed charge, it has actively followed the case filed in Supreme Court by two NGOs that Indian Hindus must not be bracketed with illegal migrants, they must be sent back to Bangladesh.

It may be noted the BJP has announced the immigration policy will be a major plank on which it will contest the Assam Assembly polls next year. “Some Hindus have come from Bangladesh due to religious disturbances. We will give all of them citizenship once we come to power in Assam next year,” party president Amit Shah had said at a rally on April 27. His party would also work towards giving Indian citizenship to all Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants across the country, he said.

In the words of one of the lawyers involved, the government made emphatic assurances that it would resolve the matter. Two initial hearings were handled by an Additional Solicitor-General, while Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi appeared at the last hearing and told the court that the matter was being considered by the home ministry.

Meanwhile, the home ministry is likely to consider the alternatives carefully, before giving its reply which will decide the fate of thousands of Bangladeshi Hindus living in 19 states. The first variable is the number of Hindu migrants that the case will cover. Second, it has to fix timeframes so as to argue that Hindus were persecuted in Bangladesh before coming to India, the Ministry also has to cite specific events.

This, in turn, may complicate bilateral ties if the events mentioned happened to have occurred when the current ruling party in Bangladesh was in power.

At the same time, echoing the campaign speeches of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Shah said the BJP sought to get rid of illegal immigrants or “infiltrators” — Muslims who come over from Bangladesh.

 

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