NRC is India’s ‘local internal matter’ with ‘ethnic undertones’: Bangladesh
Bangladesh on Tuesday called the exclusion of over 40 lakh people in Assam from the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) India’s “local internal matter” with “ethnic undertones”. It said New Delhi has not even once in the 48 years of Bangladesh’s existence ever raised the issue of illegal immigrants with Dhaka.
“Firstly, we see this as an internal, local political issue with Indian state of Assam. It has nothing to do with Bangladesh. The Indian government has not discussed this issue with us, nor do we have any intention to take it up with India as it is an internal matter of India, our friendly neighbour,” Bangladesh information minister Hasanul-Haque Inu said in an interview with HT.
“No. As I said, it is a local political issue,’’ he said when asked for his view about references to Bangladesh vis-à-vis illegal migrants despite enjoying good ties with India. “So the local leaders would talk about it. At the same time, it is an age-old ethnic issue that needs to be addressed.”
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He insisted there are no illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in India. “Again, I am not telling you how issues get reflected in a local political discourse. But the fact of the matter is that there is no illegal immigrant from Bangladesh in India. This issue, let me stress, has never been discussed between us and India in the past 48 years.”
He said Bangladesh had 10 million refugees in India during the liberation war with Pakistan. “We are grateful to India for hosting them. They were subsequently repatriated or let us say the matter was addressed under the mutually agreed terms and jointly between the two countries.”
He said Bangladesh sees Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “secular, democratic, liberal and inclusive leader would anyway address issues of ethnic conflicts”.
Separately, Union minister Kiren Rijiju told Parliament only 39 Bangladeshi nationals had entered Assam illegally and they have been deported over the last two years. He added Bangladesh recently verified nationality and issued travel documents for deportation of 53 Bangladeshi nationals, including one minor, who were lodged in Assam’s detention camps.