THE Bengali Hindus settled in Udhamsingh Nagar district, Uttarakhand, and in Pilibhit district, UP, face government apathy in granting Indian citizenship and their right to a decent and honourable life even after more than 50 years after migrating to India. More than one lakh Hindus, who have migrated from East Bengal (now Bangladesh) during 1963-71 unrest, have settled in Udhamsingh Nagar and Pilibhit. But, only 15-20 thousand settlers have been granted the Indian citizenship, so far; while the rest has been left high and dry.
In June & July 2012, when Uttarakhand CM Vijay Bahuguna was contesting election from Bengali migrants dominated Sitarganj assembly constituency, he made tall promises of granting land-ownership right, government jobs, unemployment allowance and opening hospitals, schools, colleges etc. to facilitate them. However, as soon as he won the polls, he forgot all his poll promises. Kiran Mandal who earlier won as MLA from Sitarganj assembly constituency on BJP ticket, only to vacate the seat treacherously later on for CM Vijay Bahuguna, also has turned a blind eye towards his own community’s acute problems. Local people say that if Kiran Mandal is a traitor, Bahuguna is a cheat. Now, the Bengali Hindus in Sitarganj segment are feeling unrepresented in the state assembly.
However, Rudrapur MLA Rajkumar Thukral, who is also a hero for local Hindus, is doing all he can for the welfare of Bengali Hindus in Sitarganj assembly constituency. Shri Thukral has also pleaded with Pilibhit MP Varun Gandhi to raise their citizenship issue in Lok Sabha as soon as possible. But, Varun Gandhi says, “During the tumultuous years in Bangladesh, my grandmother Indira Gandhi brought here the tormented Hindus to lead a peaceful and prosperous life in India. In the initial period till 1964, all the Bengali families settling here were provided with instant Indian citizenship, along with five acres of arable land, two bullocks, a plough, crop seeds, fertilizers and a gun license meant for self-protection in Terai area’s untouched wilderness.” However, Varun said further, the Hindus kept migrating to the Terai region from Bangladesh for 15 more years to come with their harrowing tales of wretched lives back in Bangladesh. The belated arrivals, however, could not be granted the Indian citizenship, so far. He added further, “We have raised the issue of Bengali Hindus’ plight in Lok Sabha several times. The UPA Government is paying no attention to it. As the matter is related to the Union Government, we also met the Union Home Minister to press the matter, but without success.”