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Bangladesh worried about India’s National Register of Citizens

Monday 30 September 2019, by siawi3


Bangladesh worried about India’s National Register of Citizens

29.09.19 - 15:22 (2 hours ago)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Photo: Reuters/Files

Sheikh Hasina Expresses ’Great Concern’ Over NRC, Modi Tells Her Not to Worry

What’s the news?

Ahead of her visit to India next month, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised her concerns over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during their meeting in New York on Friday.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ read-out of the meeting did not mention that the NRC was discussed. But, that the matter was raised was revealed by Bangladesh foreign minister A.K. Abdul Momen to reporters after the meeting.

As per reports of Bangladeshi news agency UNB, Momen said that Bangladeshi Prime Minister “raised the NRC issue saying that it has become a matter of great concern”.

Why is this important?

Till now, the Bangladesh government had kept away from commenting on the NRC issue.

Even when the current Union home minister and BJP president Amit Shah had described Bangladeshi migrants as “termites” a year ago, there had been no official response from Dhaka.

Bangladesh’s position had always been that the NRC process was an “internal matter” of India. Dhaka has also officially stated several times that there is no mass immigration from Bangladesh to India.

Around 19 lakh people were left out of the final NRC published on August 31. The list has been greeted with disappointment and anger, not only from those whose names have been left out, but also from civil society groups which were earlier supporting the decision to filter out immigrants from Bangladesh. The local unit of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, which had initially welcomed the process, was critical once it became clear that many Hindus too would feature in it.

Just before the list was released, external affairs minister S. Jaishankar said in Dhaka that Assam NRC process is an “internal matter”.

Following the register’s publication, Assam’s finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma stated that India has to “start discussing with Bangladesh to accept its citizens who had settled in India illegally”.

So what did India say?

According to Momen, after the Bangladeshi prime minister raised the matter, the Indian prime minister told Hasina that there “will be no impact on Bangladesh and there is no need to be worried about it”.
This is not the first time that the Indian PM has assured Hasina that there would be no deportations.

In an interview to Voice of America in October 2018, Sheikh Hasina said that she had been spoken to Narendra Modi over the issue. “He told me that they have no plan to send them (illegal migrants) back.”

Hasina had also articulated Bangladesh’s position on undocumented immigration. “I don’t think any illegal Bangladeshi took shelter there. Our economy is strong enough. Why would they go there to become illegal migrants?… And if some people call their own citizens illegal, it’s their own issue,” she added.

Meanwhile, thousands protest in America against Modi

Thousands of South Asians and concerned North Americans staged a rally at the UN headquarters as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday.

Those who gathered said they had come to oppose what they described as an undeclared Emergency in India, the “military occupation” of Kashmir, the lynchings of Dalits and Muslims, ongoing violence against women and the violation of the rights of workers, farmers, Adivasis and minorities, among other things.

Mobilised by a range of South Asian community organisations, they came from the US’s northeastern corridor around New York and from further afield, participants told The Wire.

Though they were from diverse political affiliations and persuasions, they carried banners broadly opposing the violation of rights in India.

The Indian government’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and subject the people of the Valley to a communications blockade – now in its 55th day – has been the subject of intense discussions within the Indian and South Asian diaspora in the US.

Though Modi has been prime minister for over five years and has visited the United States six times since 2014, this is the first time his presence in the US has been met with such vociferous protests.

In a press release, one of the organisations that protested, the Coalition Against Fascism in India (CAFI), said that the Modi government had been “orchestrating a pogrom of hate and violence against Muslims and Dalits in India,” and had “disenfranchised seven million Kashmiris”.

Referring to the NRC exercise, the statement added that the Modi government had “rendered nearly two million people stateless in Assam and is building detention centres to imprison them”.