We will ask ‘friend’ Bangladesh to take back its people: Assam minister on NRC

Following the publication of a citizens’ list with 1.9 million left off, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said the northeastern Indian state “will ask Bangladesh to take their people back”.

News Deskbdnews24.com
Published : 1 Sept 2019, 03:58 PM
Updated : 1 Sept 2019, 04:16 PM

The senior BJP leader says the years-long citizenship exercise has traced up to 1.5 million foreigners.  

In an interview with Indian media News18 hours after the publication of the National Register of Citizens or NRC, Sarma said: “This has been a mixed bag for us. People who came in post-1971 as refugees will face problems… We sympathise with them, but there are many who have manipulated the NRC process and we will look into it.”

“There is no myth… If you go through the religious census data, you would see that there has been a significant shift in the demography…

“We have managed to trace some illegal immigrants and we are looking to refine the search and the process will go on till every indigenous people of Assam will find their place... We have traced 14-15 lakh foreigners... This has been proved,” he said.

He ruled out fears of human rights violation of the people left out of the list, slating West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for expressing concerns over the fate of those who have 120 days more to appeal and prove their citizenship.
“No human rights will be violated… We will approach Bangladesh and ask them to take their people back, but during that time we will not allow them to vote and give them certain amenities,” Sarma said.
“The government of Bangladesh is a friend to India and they are cooperating with us… They are frequently taking back their people when we have presented cases of illegal immigration.
“The government of Bangladesh is a friend to India and they are cooperating with us… They are frequently taking back their people when we have presented cases of illegal immigration. 
“The number has not been high, but now we will have a process to identify them,” the leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party said.
Sarma also ruled out the possibilities that everyone out of the list will be sent to Bangladesh.
“Just because people’s name don’t appear in the NRC doesn’t mean that they will be called foreigners and sent to Bangladesh. There is a legal process in place which will help them with their case, but till then, they will not be allowed to take part in the political process of the country,” he said.
Bangladesh has denied anyone left the country to settle in India after the 1971 Liberation War against Pakistan, terming Assam citizenship an “internal matter” of India.

News18 contacted Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for comments on the NRC.

When asked about Sarma’s statement, he said, “Bangladesh has nothing to do with NRC. I repeat, it is India’s internal matter. I don’t know who said what in this matter. Let India inform us officially, then we will respond.

“All I can say is that no one from Bangladesh went to India after 1971. It may be possible that they settled (mainly Bengalis) in Assam from various parts of India itself, but not Bangladesh.”

He also said he did not think the Indian government will push anyone towards Bangladesh.

In Dhaka, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters after a programme that the government was keeping an eye on the developments.

“Some in India are saying there are many Bangladeshis, but actually there is no Bangladeshi citizen. All who went there from Bangladesh moved between ’47 and ’71. No-one goes now,” he said.  

Asked if the issue will damage Bangladesh-India ties, he said, “Future is unknown.”

Officials checked documents submitted by roughly 33 million people for a draft NRC released last year. It had left out more than 4 million residents of the state, many of them Hindu. A little over 31.1 million people now make up the final list.