Will take back Bangladeshi citizens staying in India illegally if evidence provided: Dhaka official

We don’t know whether any have been left out of NRC, says Sheikh Hasina’s adviser

Published - December 17, 2019 10:25 pm IST - Kolkata

If India can establish the citizenship of Bangladeshis, allegedly residing in India illegally, Dhaka will take them back. However, New Delhi has not informed Dhaka of anything about the Bangladeshis living in India, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy adviser Gowher Rizvi has said.

Mr. Rizvi was here to open a three-day celebration of Bangladesh’s victory in the 1971 Liberation War at the office of the Deputy High Commission here on Tuesday.

Answering a question on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), he said that while the two countries are in touch with each other, “no one from the government of India has indicated whether there is any Bangladeshi citizen [who has been left out of the NRC]”.

“Our policy is clear. If any Bangladeshi citizen is illegally staying in India, we will take the person back, like India is expected to take its [illegal] citizens back. But it has to be proved that the person is a Bangladeshi citizen. First, we have to know whether a person [residing illegally] is from Pakistan or some other country and only then can we can comment,” Mr. Rizvi said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured Bangladesh that there was “no reasons to worry”, he said.

Cancelled trips

His comments came after the visits of the Bangladesh Foreign Minister and Home Minister to India were cancelled in the wake of the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. However, Mr. Rizvi did not say anything about the measure. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Act has now gone to the Supreme Court and it is premature to comment without [knowing] the court’s decision.”

He, underscored that Bangladesh is a “secular and pluralistic society” where no one is discriminated against on the basis of religion.

“We are a deeply secular and pluralistic society, and barring one or two incidents, we remained so over 50 years. We do not create any difference among the Hindus, the Muslims, the Christians and the Buddhists,” he said. It recently emerged that India is charging at least 200 times more penalty for visa overstay from the majority community of Bangladesh than from the minority community.

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