The Lok Jan Shakti Party chief and former Union Minister, Ram Vilas Paswan, on Friday thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for responding positively to the demand for a caste-based census.

Talking to journalists, he said such an exercise would help understand afresh the numerous castes in the country and their respective strengths.

Mr. Paswan said Bangladeshis who came to India during the 1971 war could be counted as Indians, They must have aged now and their children, born here, would have automatically gained Indian citizenship. There should be a cut-off date for conferring citizenship to migrant Bangladeshis. There should also be a law to check infiltration.

“One should not ignore the fact that quite a few Indians going to the United States or Canada eventually end up as citizens of these countries,” he pointed out.

The caste system was a reality and 10 per cent reservation should be provided to encourage inter-caste marriages, he said.

Mr. Paswan condemned the killing of Dalits at Mirchpur in Haryana and demanded immediate punishment for the guilty.