Intro : BJP-led NDA government reportedly moves forward to grant citizenship to the Hindus, Buddhists and Chakmas who migrated from Bangladesh following persecution by Islamic fanatics.
Close on the heels of the announcement made by BJP president Amit Shah that the Hindu refugees from Bangladesh would be granted Indian citizenship, there are speculations whether the BJP-led NDA government will issue an ordinance or pass a Bill in the Parliament to ensure ‘citizenship’ to the Hindus who have crossed over from Bangladesh over the years.
“This will not only help the Hindus, but also the Buddhists and Chakmas who had to cross over to Bangladesh fearing torture and discrimination on religious ground,” a BJP source told this correspondent. This is not a new commitment by the BJP. Among the other related core issues, the settlement of Hindu refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan figure prominently in the party agenda.
In fact, there seems to be a RSS backing to such the move. The Sangh has already passed a resolution in this regard. The resolution says that “the Hindus in East Bengal have not lost and cannot lose their nationality and are consequently entitled to every protection and relief from the state of Bharat”. The resolution called upon the nation for total help to the “helpless victims” of East Bengal aggression. Now, sources in the BJP suggest the government is exploring possibilities of enacting a law or issuing an ordinance.
There are reports that the NDA Government is set to move forward on the question of granting citizenship to the Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh and is expected to submit a policy document to Supreme Court shortly. The document, being formulated by the Home Ministry, will decide the fate of lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus living in 18 states of India.
After an initiative of Vajpayee Government, the Indian authorities had granted citizenship to over 8,000 Pakistani Hindu nationals settled in Rajasthan and Gujarat. The Hindus including “those who came to India on valid travel papers from Pakistan, citing ill-treatment on religious grounds as the reason for their refusal to go back” were to be granted Indian citizenship.
|“Some Hindus have come from Bangladesh due to religious disturbances. The BJP will give all of them citizenship once we come to power in Assam next year.”—Amit Shah, BJP Chief on April 27, 2015|
However, this remains an unresolved issue as in January 2015 more than 400 Hindu families from Pakistan, who live in Gujarat, attended a two-day camp held by Union Home Ministry and the District Collector's office and demanded early clearance of papers for granting them citizenship.
Interestingly, in northeast of India, after announcement of the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) updated in Assam, most of the Hindu refugees, Buddhist and Chakmas are facing ‘big threat’ on required and supporting documents. It is worth mentioning here that former BJP MP from Silchar, Kabindra Purkayastha had moved a private member’s Bill in Parliament on alleged 'torture and atrocities' being committed on Hindu migrants from Bangladesh.
Seeking to facilitate Pakistani Hindus wanting to stay back in India for fear of religious persecution back home, the Union Home Ministry under Prime Minister Naendra Modi in September 2014 had constituted a taskforce to monitor and expedite processing of citizenship and long term visa applications for such applicants.
In fact, things had moved in western India and in February 2015, the government decided that around 7000 Hindu refugees from Pakistan would be granted citizenship and the first camp for it was set up in Barmer in Rajasthan.
Sekhar Dey (The writer is a Delhi based North-East region journalist)