Govt. set to grant citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh

The government is set to move forward on the question of granting citizenship to Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh and is expected to submit a policy document to the Supreme Court soon.

  • The Document regarding this is being prepared by the Union Home Ministry. This will decide the fate of thousands of Bangladeshi Hindus living in 18 States.

Background:

  • The Centre is submitting the document in response to a case filed in 2012 by two NGOs, which pleaded that Hindus and persons of other minorities from Bangladesh migrating to India to escape religious persecution must not be bracketed with illegal migrants and sent back.
  • The petitions had also demanded grant of refugee status to these persons, which could later be converted to citizenship.
  • Initially the focus of the case was on Assam where animosity towards refugees from Bangladesh is a strong political issue.
  • However, in July 2013, the Supreme Court made the case into a national issue — the Bench hearing the case made 18 States a party to it, observing that the problem of religious minorities coming from Bangladesh to India was not confined to Assam alone.
  • The previous government did not show much interest in this case since it involved the question of granting rights on the basis of religion. Since the new government came to power, it has proactively followed the case.

Assam Accord:

  • The Assam Accord (1985) was a Memorandum of Settlement (MoS) signed between representatives of the Government of India and the leaders of the Assam Movement in New Delhi on 15 August 1985.
  • The accord brought an end to the Assam Agitation and paved the way for the leaders of the agitation to form a political party and form a government in the state of Assam soon after.
  • The Assam agitation dates back to 1979 against illegal foreign nationals, which culminated in the signing of the Assam Accord. Assamese people had assimilated Bangladeshis who had migrated till 1966.
  • As per the Accord, those Bangladeshis who came between 1966 and 1971 will be barred from voting for ten years. The Accord also mentions that the international borders will be sealed and all persons who crossed over from Bangladesh after 1971 are to be deported.
  • Though the accord brought an end to the agitation, some of the key clauses are yet to be implemented, which has kept some of the issues festering.

Sources: The Hindu, Wiki.

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