SC to examine Bangladesh migrants' plea for citizenship

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine the plea for grant of citizenship or refugee status to thousands of displaced persons, mostly in Assam, of minority communities like Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Christians due to their alleged religious persecution in Bangladesh.

A bench of justices P Sathasivam and Ranjan Gogoi however, asked the petitioner NGOs Swajan and Bimolangshu Roy Foundation in Assam to implead the states of West Bengal and Meghalaya in the writ petition and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.

The apex court was initially disinclined to entertain the PIL but agreed to consider the issue after senior counsel M N Krishnamani and Pinky Anand, on behalf of the NGOs, submitted the issue involved the future of two lakh migrants spread over not only Assam but also West Bengal and Meghalaya.

The petition filed through counsel Shuvodeep Roy stated that in spite of a specific mandate of Section 2 of Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 protecting from expulsion victims of civil disturbances, no measures have been taken either by the
Centre or Assam to provide ameliorative steps for displaced persons.

It was submitted that citizenship was granted to similarly affected persons from Pakistan and Bangladesh by Citizenship (Amendment) Rules, 2004, for minority Hindu community people who were displaced as a result of the 1965 and 1971 wars between India and Pakistan and they were settled in Rajasthan and Gujarat.

“A new procedure was worked out between the years 2004 and 2007 by an executive action by the Centre. This facilitated the grant of citizenship of India to these persons under the provisions of Citizenship Act, 1955,” the petition said.

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