Bangladesh’s Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said on Tuesday that it is incorrect to link illegal immigrants to the country, adding that “you can’t link every Bengali-speaking person to Bangladesh”. Asked by media whether his country will be willing to take back illegal immigrants, Inu said Bangladesh couldn’t comment on the matter till India shares findings of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) with them.
With the final draft of Assam’s National Registry of Citizens (NRC) sparking a nationwide debate over the exclusion of over four million people, Bangladesh on Tuesday stated that linking illegal migrants with them is “incorrect”. A report published in the The Hindu stated that Inu again said on Wednesday that Bangladesh would rather discuss the issue of sharing water with India instead of discussing the issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
India had not raised the issue of human movements from Bangladesh since the creation of the country in 1971, and termed the exclusion of four million individuals from the NRC as the sign of a “democracy deficit” in India. The report quoted Inu as saying, “The NRC in Assam is a product of a century-old ethnic conflict of a particular province of India. It is well known that the conflict of Assam began even before modern India and Bangladesh were born in 1947 and 1971. Bangladesh is interested in getting its due share of water from India (read sharing of Teesta waters), rather than a part of the citizens of Assam.”
Inu, a former guerilla who fought in the 1971 Liberation War, said Dhaka was “hopeful” that the Modi Government would ensure an amicable settlement of the controversy that had arisen after more than four million people were excluded from the NRC.
Talking about “democracy deficit” which he said was a trend in major democracies of the world, the minister further remarked, “Mature constitutional democracies that have handled issues of identity and distribution of resources without creating human tragedies are failing to do so in recent years. That is why an NRC-like problem emerged in India.”
Diplomatic sources said Bangladesh had no plans to engage India on the NRC. However, Indian diplomats had begun to engage Bangladeshi opinion-makers on the developments in Assam, said the Editor of a prominent Dhaka daily, Bhorer Kagoj.
“Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla met a group of 12 senior editors today [Wednesday] in Dhaka and briefed us about the history of the NRC and how it had been drafted over the past few years. He informed us about the 1985 Assam Accord. He, however, did not mention that India would try to deport the NRC-excluded four million citizens to our country,” Datta said.
An editorial published in Bhorer Kagoj on July 31 last had cautioned that Dhaka should remain alert so that the NRC would not trigger an influx from Assam to Bangladesh. A full-blown political row has erupted ever since the final draft of Assam’s NRC was published on Monday. The draft list incorporated the names of nearly 2.89 crore individuals out of the 3.29 crore applicants, leaving out more than 40 lakh applicants from the final draft.