KOLKATA: Six months after the government issued a notification stating that minority refugees from Pakistan and Bangladesh can stay in the country even after their visas expire, a BJP cell has urged the government to expedite the citizenship Bill for Hindu refugees ahead of the Assam and West Bengal elections.
The BJP refugee cell requested the government also to start granting citizenship to the Hindu refugees under Section 18 of the Citizenship Act.
In a recent letter to union home minister Rajnath Singh, the cell said it doesn’t want a “general amnesty” type arrangement for these refugees.
Instead, it has proposed that a reason be stated for the exodus from Bangladesh, based on which the citizenship be given. These documents, according to them, will then be used to form a public opinion about the atrocities of an Islamic society on the Hindus in Bangladesh, which in turn will help bring “legal and financial assistance” from international fora.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced by the home ministry last year and the government has invited comments from public. Home ministry officials said the process of consultation is still ongoing and that they will come up with a Cabinet note as soon as the decision is reached.
In its letter dated February 3, the cell proposed that each refugee apply for citizenship and state the reason for leaving Bangladesh. This will help generate documents of 10 million people about the atrocities they faced and form the basis for future research, it said. “The Refugee Cell of West Bengal BJP will assist the refugees to fill up these information forms,” said the letter, written by Mohit Roy, convener of BJP’s refugee cell in Bengal.
Meanwhile, another group of activists, Assam Bengali Youth Students Federation, met the home minister on February 28 and warned him about possible setbacks for the BJP in Assam if the Bill is not tabled before the upcoming assembly elections.
Kamal Choudhury, president of the organization, told ET: “This is high time that the government table the Bill and implement it. It was an election promise of the Modi government.
Recently, in a meeting at Kokrajhar in Assam, he (Modi) reiterated his stand on granting citizenship to Hindu refuges. However, things are not moving.”
Moreover, the Assam government continues to arrest Hindu refugees, though the Centre issued a notification giving legal rights to the Hindu refugees to stay here, he alleged.