NEW DELHI, Sept 8 - In what is seen as a dilution of the Assam Accord, the Centre has decided to regularise the entry and stay of Hindu Bengalis who migrated from Bangladesh.
An official notification, issued by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on Monday evening, said the Central Government has decided, on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities, who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014 from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India, without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be.
The Central Government has accordingly issued two notifications in the Official Gazette today under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946.
There are reports that a number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities in those countries, such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists, were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution. They have entered into India either without any valid document including passport/other travel document or with valid documents, but the validity of such document has expired.
The issue of regularisation of entry and stay of such Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals in India has been under consideration of the Central Government. The Home Ministry notification will affect the fate of thousands of Bangladeshi Hindus living in 18 States.
Pressure on the ruling BJP-led NDA Government has been mounting over the last few months with Bengal organisations demanding citizenship status for migrated Hindu Bengalis. The organisations have been demanding grant of refugee status to these persons, which could later be converted to citizenship.
The BJP national president, Amit Shah, while addressing a rally in Assam on April 27, had said that 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,” Shah had said.
Meanwhile, threatening to challenge the Centre’s notification in the Supreme Court, adviser of the All Assam Students Union (AASU), Samujjal Bhattacharyya said that they would launch an agitation in the State if the Central Government does not withdraw the notification.
Talking to this newspaper over telephone, Bhattacharyya said that the AASU, which is one of the stake-holders of the Assam Accord under which the cut-off date of March 25, 1971 was fixed, was not consulted and the Centre unilaterally took the decision.
It is illegal on part of the Centre to have violated the Assam Accord, the only Accord to have been signed on the issue of illegal migration, he said. Assam had agreed to take the load of the illegal migrants till 1971. “But we won’t take the load of foreign nationals, post-1971. The Centre should think of distributing the load. “We took the load of foreign nationals till 1971 with citizenship,” he stressed.
Alleging that the Centre’s notification was dilution of the Assam Accord, Bhattacharyya said that they are consulting legal experts and are likely to challenge the notification in the Supreme Court, where a case against illegal migration is going on.