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  Asia-Pacific
Assam Forum Bats for Work Permits to Bangladeshi Settlers
By Nava Thakuria
Special Correspondent
illegal
Bangladeshi migrants in Assam
Guwahati: Understanding the troubles caused by millions of illegal
Bangladeshi migrants in Assam of northeast India, a patriotic forum urges the Union government in New Delhi to think about offering work permits (without voting rights) to them in case their deportation becomes impossible because of serious humanitarian & international crisis.

Reiterating its old stand for 1951 as the cut-off year to detect all immigrants from the then East Pakistan and later Bangladesh to the State, the Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) also appealed to Sarbananda Sonowal led government at Dispur to support the 1951 as base year in the Supreme Court of India, as the case is presently in the apex court’s jurisdiction.

“Considering the spirit of Assam Movement (1979 to 1985) to deport all foreigners with 1951 base year, for which over 850 martyrs-Khargeswar Talukder being the first, sacrificed their lives, the PPFA found reasons to support the same,” said a statement issued to the media outlets.

The forum pointed out that the immigrants who entered India after 1951 till 16 December 1971 should be treated as East Pakistani nationals, as Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign nation only after 16 December (not 25 March 1971 as often reported in Indian media outlets) following the surrender of Pakistani forces under the leadership of AAK Niazi to the Muktijoddhas (forces of Bangladesh freedom struggle).

Arguing strongly to deport the immigrants from Bangladesh, who came after 16 December 1971, the forum urged the Union government to start diplomatic exercises with the Bangladesh government in Dhaka. It also expressed hope that a friendly regime in Dhaka would respond to New Delhi’s worries positively and timely.

In another aspect, the forum commented that once the citizenship amendment bills are duly passed in the Parliament, all the Hindu, Buddhist, Christian refugees should be rehabilitated with equal distribution across the country. Among them, those who prefer to stay legally in Assam should adopt Assamese language as their medium of instructions, asserted the statement.

The PPFA earlier appreciated the Union government for proposing to amend the citizenship act for granting Indian citizenship to all victims of religious persecutions in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. At the same time, the forum expressed resentments that few individuals and organizations in Assam had tried to communalise the issue instead of helping to find an amicable solution for those affected people.

“We are from this land of glorious civilization & culture and we feel that our spirit should be that of accommodation of Hindu, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs and other religious minorities who have had to face extreme suppression in erstwhile East Pakistan now Bangladesh) and also West Pakistan and have been the true victims of partition of India,” said the forum.

History bears witness to the fact that Muslims of undivided India that followed the ideology of Muslim League and who wanted a separate homeland for the Muslims were granted Pakistan and thus they became ‘foreigners’ to Indians. In fact the moment they created a foreign land for themselves they lost their rights to get into India again without passports or related legal documents. So, post 15 August 1947 India, all those who demanded and chose to live in Pakistan (including East Pakistan) was legally foreigners.

However, history is also witness to the fact that the minority Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists who were left behind in Pakistan were continuing to face brutal suppression at the hands of the new non-secular government, which prompted the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to issue a historic statement in Parliament that non-Muslims would be safe and secure in Pakistan as both the new nations pledged to be good and friendly neighbours. Nehru also declared if non-Muslims felt unsafe and insecure in Pakistan due to religious or communal persecutions in future, they would be always welcome in India.

“We are also fully aware that since the formation of Bangladesh and the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, Bangladesh made Islam the State religion setting into motion the persecution of minority non-Muslims. All these people became the victims of ‘Pakistan Plan’ & ‘Partition’ and had to therefore live in a ‘foreign land,’ for the creation of which they were not at all responsible,” added the forum.

It may noted that in Bangladesh, the Hindus include Bengali, Rajbongshi, Hajong, Adivasi, Jayantiya and Bishnupriya communities, Buddhists (represented by Chakmas) and some Assamese people also, who fled to the Chittagong hill areas during the Burmese invasion. The Christians include Bengali, Garo, Khasi and Adivasi people.

So, under no circumstances these people can be termed as ‘foreigners’.

The foreigners are those who created the ‘foreign land’ in the name of religion, but again these are the same group of people who are infiltrating into India, the country they hated to live in, before 1947 for reasons best known to them. If the history of Partition is properly studied, we can clearly understand who these ‘Foreigners’ are and who are the actual ‘Victims of Partition’ and who came to India to protect their religions, cultures and their lives, asserted the PPFA.

Finally the forum argued that the rehabilitated Hindu, Buddhist, Christian refugees should adopt Assamese language as their medium of instructions as the initiative in Assam would help in promoting the Assamese culture and thus contributing for a stronger and safer India, opined the statement endorsed by Rupam Barua, Pramod Kalita, Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Ujjal Saikia, Bidhayak Das, Kishour Giri, Dhiraj Goswami, Mridul Chakrabarty etc.



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Nava Thakuria, who serves as a special correspondent for The Seoul Times, is based in Guwahati of Northeast India. He also contributes articles for many media outlets based in different parts of the glove, and can be contacted at navathakuria@gmail.com

 

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