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Tariqat Federation expresses concern over Assam NRC

  • Published at 09:34 am August 16th, 2018
A woman carrying her son arrives to check her name on the draft list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) at an NRC center in Chandamari village in Goalpara district in the northeastern state of Assam, India, January 2, 2018 Reuters

The Indian government and BJP say the country has no intention to drive those excluded from the NRC to Bangladesh

The Delhi-Dhaka relationship will be strained—if India forces the four million people excluded from the National Register of Citizens in Assam to seek refuge in Bangladesh, says the Bangladesh Tariqat Federation (BTF).

A three-member Tariqat delegation, led by its Chairman Syed Nazibul Bashar Maizvandary, informed the Indian government of its apprehension during the August 3-11 visit of the neighbouring country.

Tariqat Secretary General Syed Rezaul Haq Chadpuri and Joint Secretary General and diplomatic spokesman Syed Tayabul Bashar accompanied the chairman.

The delegation met with India’s State Minister for External Affairs MJ Akbar, Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, and Bharatiya Janata Party Vice President Viney Shasrabhe. It also met think tank groups including the Observer Research Foundation and Vivekananda International Foundation.

India invited the Tariqat delegation to discuss the ongoing NRC in Assam, Bangladesh’s political situation, and trans-border terrorism, Tayabul Bashar told the Dhaka Tribune over the phone.

He said it was the first time in India’s history that the country had invited an Islamic political party.

During the meeting with Akbar, Nazibul Bashar raised the NRC issue and expressed concern, claiming that if India drives out four million Bangla-speaking people, then the issue will affect its ties with Bangladesh.

“He said Bangladesh is sheltering around a million Rohingya on a humanitarian basis but there is no room for an additional four million people,” relayed Tayabul.

Akbar assured the delegation that neither the BJP nor the Indian government is involved with the NRC issue since it is a matter of the court.

The first attempt to compile the NRC was made by Tarun Gogoi’s Congress government in 2009— following talks between the central and state governments and the All Assam Students’ Union.

But the “pilot project” to update the NRC, on the basis of the 1951 electoral rolls, in the revenue circles of Chaygaon in Kamrup district and Barpeta, in Barpeta district, was stiffly opposed by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union. 

In the violent demonstrations that followed June 7, 2010, four persons were killed by police fire and scores were injured. Local media reported that the project was abandoned.

Work on the NRC did not resume until 2015, when the Supreme Court started monitoring the exercise in response to a petition filed in 2009 by an organization called the Assam Public Works. 

Since then, the exercise has been seen as a near-sacrosanct “national duty” carried out by nearly 60,000 employees—often working overtime to meet the deadline set by the apex court. 

Though the Supreme Court’s involvement added a sense of impartiality, the massive exercise carried out by the state revealed its shortcomings. This was evident when the final draft excluded 4,070,707 people from citizenship—a large number of whom are believed to be genuine citizens.

The Tariqat delegation met with Union Minister Rijiju, on August 6, and raised the NRC issue. It also discussed issues such as Rohingya refugees and matters of bilateral interest in: social, political, cultural, and economic sectors.

Rijiju informed the team that the process was undertaken with the supervision and direction of the Supreme Court. He said only “illegal immigrants from Bangladesh will be excluded,” an official statement of Tariqat said.

When the visiting Bangladeshi team raised the Rohingya issue, Rijiju replied that India was fully aware of the heavy burden  on Bangladesh, due to the exodus of a million Rohingya people, and was fully supportive of resolving the crisis.

Other issues, such as connectivity to the Northeastern states via the Bay of Bengal, and trade prospects, were also deliberated upon during the meeting, Tayabul Bashar said.

He said a peaceful and prosperous Bangladesh is of high importance for the prosperity of India—and the Indian government will continue to make efforts in this direction.

BJP Vice President Shasrabhe told the Tariqat delegation that neither India nor the BJP has any intention to push the four million people into Bangladesh.

Apart from these, Indian politicians praised Tariqat for the role it has been playing in fighting terrorism and terror ideology in the region, Tayabul added.

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