Thursday, 25 July 2013

Don’t deport Hindus who flee Bangladesh: PIL

TNN | Jul 26, 2013, 04.33 AM IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday sought responses of the Centre and 18 states to a PIL which pleaded that Hindus migrating to India to escape religious persecution in Bangladesh must not be bracketed with other illegal migrants and pushed back or deported.

The PIL by NGO "Swajan" through advocate Shuvodeep Roy has been knocking at the doors of the apex court since August last year. It had only focused on Assam, terming the problem as peculiar to it.

However, a bench of Justices P Sathasivam (as he then was) and Ranjan Gogoi had told Roy to do more research on the issue saying the problem of Hindus coming from Bangladesh into India was not confined only to the northeastern state.

Nearly nine months later, counsel for the NGO, senior advocates MN Krishnamani and Pinky Anand, told the bench of Chief Justice Sathasivam and Justice Gogoi that the court was right in its assessment and that the problem was spread over 18 states.

The petitioner said those who migrated to India from Pakistan, both east and west, after partition were treated as displaced persons, settled in various states and later granted citizenship. It asked why the same principle was not being applied to Hindus fleeing Bangladesh.

"In the past, refugees from Tibet, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Myanmar and Chakmas from Bangladesh have been settled in Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura and other states. The government of India has consistently followed the policy of not repatriating refugees without engaging with the country of their origin and ensuring the safety of their life and property in the respective country of their origin," the petitioner said.

The NGO said it would be wrong to condemn Hindus fleeing Bangladesh to escape religious persecution as 'illegal migrants' and pushed back into no-man's land on the India-Bangladesh border, rendering them stateless and left in precarious condition.

"What is alarming is that there is also no formal agreement, treaty etc with Bangladesh for repatriation/rehabilitation of the 'displaced persons'. Bangladesh does not even own up these unfortunate persons and as a result they have nowhere and no one to turn to," it said.

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