By Md. Kamruzzaman
DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) – India’s leader has assured his Bangladeshi counterpart that there is no reason to be worried about the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the state-run Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency reported Saturday.
In his meeting in New York with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on the sidelines of the 74th UN General Assembly, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there is no reason to be concerned over such an issue, as India and Bangladesh maintain very good relations, according to Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen.
On Aug. 31, the NRC authority headed by State Coordinator Prateek Hajela released the final NRC on its official website, excluding more than 1.9 million of the 33 million residents of Assam state who applied for registration, most of them Bangla-speaking Muslims.
Before and after releasing the final NRC list, several leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), including Home Minister Amit Shah, repeatedly warned that the government would deport illegal residents.
In a meeting with BJP leaders in the country’s northeast on Sept. 8, Shah vowed that India would throw "every single illegal immigrant" out of the country.
BJP legislative assembly member and former education minister Vasudev Devnani in a letter to the Home Ministry on Sept. 23 urged the government to implement such an NRC in Rajasthan “to weed out Bangladeshi immigrants” in the state.
He alleged that many Bangladeshi nationals have illegally settled in Ajmer, Jaipur, Kota, Udaipur, Jodhpur and other districts of India.
Terming the NRC issue a matter of great concern for Bangladesh, Hasina raised the issue with Modi at their meeting.
“We can take care of the issues like the NRC and water sharing very easily, as relations between Bangladesh and India are quite excellent,” Modi replied.
Modi also assured Hasina that the officials concerned in India will work to fix the issues and said Bangladesh need not be worried, Momen said.
Despite this assurance, it seems that until India eases the conditions for being included on the list as citizens for those excluded by proving they or their forebears were in India before March 24, 1971, many who have been living in the state for generations face deportation.
On March 25, 1971 the war between then East Pakistan (currently Bangladesh) and West Pakistan began and lasted for nine months. India then supported Bangladesh. During the war, more than 10 million Bangladesh refugees took shelter in India.