The Communist Party of India (Marxist) has asked the government to amend the Citizenship Act, to provide Indian citizenship to a large number of refugees from Bangladesh, both before and after its formation.
It is said there had been a consensus in Parliament when the National Democratic Alliance was in power at the Centre.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, CPI(M) General Secretary, Prakash Karat, has drawn attention towards “the citizenship problems of the large number of refugees from erstwhile East Bengal, and then even after the formation of Bangladesh, who had to flee their country in particular historic circumstances on which they had no control”.
He said their situation was “different from those who have come to India due to economic reasons”.
Reminding Dr. Singh of his speech in Parliament when he was the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha during the NDA government that had brought the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2003, Mr. Karat quoted: “With regard to the treatment of refugees after the partition of our country, the minorities, in countries like Bangladesh, have faced persecution, and it is our moral duty that, if circumstances force people, these unfortunate people, to seek refuge in our country, the approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal.”
Mr. Karat also quoted then Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani as saying “I am fully in agreement with the views expressed by the Leader of the Opposition.”
Mr. Karat said the issue of amending the Citizenship Act was still pending even after a decade, and, in the meanwhile, “the insecurity felt by the refugees is heightened”, as in the ongoing drive for Aadhar ID cards they were “excluded and considered illegal migrants facing the constant threat of deportation”.
Pointing out that lakhs of families, a majority of them from scheduled caste communities, were affected, he asked the Prime Minister to take urgent steps to amend the law, and bring relief to these unfortunate families living across India.