Bangladesh fears exodus of Bengalis from Assam due to the ongoing process of updating National Register of Citizens. A report filed by Kallol Bhattacherjee from Dhaka for The Hindu says the process is threatening Indo-Bangla ties and Bangladesh has asked India “to halt the national citizens register plan.”
Quoting senior officials of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government in Dhaka on Wednesday the report says that the ongoing process of compiling the National Register of Citizens in Assam may trigger an exodus of Bengalis and create one more Rohingya-like refugee crisis for Bangladesh.
According to the report the Bangladeshi officials told the visiting Indian journalists that “the process in Assam is threatening India-Bangladesh ties and will be exploited by anti-India elements and Islamic fundamentalists who are challenging the Awami League rule.”
“Citizenship issue will be another disappointment after the setback on the sharing of water of the river Teesta. We believe India should think of its friendship with Bangladesh before going ahead with the full implementation of the citizens register in Assam,” the report said quoting the officials.
Quoting Prime Minister Hasina’s media adviser Iqbal Shobhan Chowdhury The Hindu reports, “If the process leads to deportation of a section of the Bengali population of Assam, it will trigger another Rohingya-like refugee crisis.”
Bangladeshi policymakers are unanimous that the failure to conclude the Teesta water sharing agreement between New Delhi and Dhaka has been disappointing and the ongoing process in Assam will complicate the situation further, the report said.
According to the report Prime Minister Hasina reflected this sentiment on Tuesday and said, “It’s sad that ‘Didimoni’ (West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) does not want to give the share of Teesta’s water that belongs to us.” These observations have gained significance as a section of the ruling Awami League believes that India has not reciprocated Hasina’s support on counter-insurgency steps in the northeastern states.
Quoting the officials, the report filed by Kallol Bhattacharjee in The Hindu further says, “They said that the Awami League government under Hasina, without any expectation of reciprocity, aided India to nab ULFA leaders who had taken refuge in Bangladesh and in Southeast Asia. But a new refugee flow from Assam, will undo years of bilateral cooperation.”
According to the report the Bangladeshi officials pointed out that “the citizen-related exercise in Assam is reminiscent of the communalism of the 1940s.”
“If someone has lived in a place for sometime, then he or she is presumed to belong to that place and they should have the freedom to stay where they are located. But the (exercise reflects the) the two-nation theory and it seems that Muslims are meant to live in Bangladesh and Hindus will live in India, as if Bangladesh is a successor to Pakistan,” Mashiur Rahman, senior civil servant and Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh said.
“India must help us,” said Communication Minister Obaidul Quader urging Delhi to address Dhaka’s concerns, the report says.