Assam approves citizenship to post ’71 Bangladeshis

The proposal – lying with the state government, pending cabinet’s approval, for the last two years – was approved on Wednesday

The Congress government in Assam has approved a proposal to grant Indian citizenship to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Bangladesh staying in the state for the last 43 years.

According to the proposal, refugees  who had fled due to religious persecution and discrimination in Bangladesh and entered Assam post-March 25, 1971, the cutoff date for determining an illegal migrant in the Assam Accord, will not be treated as foreigners.

The proposal, which has been lying with the state government, pending cabinet’s approval, for the last two years, was approved on Wednesday, reports Indian newspaper Times Of India (TOI).

The report says: “There is no census of these refugees but rough estimates suggest that the figure could be not less than 85 lakh. Majority of them are Bengali-speaking Hindus.

“There are also Buddhists, Garos, Rajbongshis, Adivasi tribals and Bishnupriya Manipuris.”

Rockybul Hussain, Assam state minister for forest and environment, read out the cabinet decision to TOI.

The cabinet decision states: “These people should not be treated as foreigners, should be accorded basic human rights such as access to courts and education, should not face the threat of deportation and should be granted citizenship in the same manner as in Gujarat and Rajasthan where people under a similar situation were granted Indian citizenship.”

The Assam Accord, signed in 1985 between All Assam Students’ Union and the central government, states that any person who has entered India after midnight of March 24, 1971, will be deported.

Source: Dhaka Tribune

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