No deporting after NRC, Modi told Hasina, says top aide

No deporting after NRC, Modi told Hasina, says top aide

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. PTI file photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina that those whose names are missing in the controversial Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) would not be sent back to Bangladesh, a top member of the Hasina government said.

“Modi assured our Prime Minister that no such things (deportation) will happen in near future. If some movement does happen in future, it would be in consultation with Bangladesh,” H T Imam, political advisor to Hasina told a delegation of visiting journalists here on Thursday.

The categorical assertion from one of Bangladesh’s senior-most politicians gives a fresh twist to the raging controversy related to the NRC exercise.

Asked when did Modi give such an assurance to Hasina, the 79-year-old Awami League leader said the two prime ministers had a number of meetings and telephonic conversations of late and he couldn’t say in exactly which meeting such an assurance came from the Indian PM.

“Indian High Commissioner here too said there would not be any deportation,” he said.

The controversy on preparing a registry of bonafide citizens of Assam on the basis of legal documents was further fuelled recently by BJP president Amit Shah who described illegal Bangladesh immigrants as "termites" eating into Indian resources.

Referring to the NRC exercise, the saffron party chief claimed every infiltrator would be identified and thrown out of the country.

Asked about the Shah comment, Imam who served as the Cabinet Secretary in the provincial Bangladesh government led by Bongobondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971 before its independence, said, “Its an internal matter of India, but in politics, there is something called shadow boxing.”

“Some of the finest officers in the Indian Army and Air Force have their roots in Bangladesh. Former (and late) chief minister Jyoti Basu (West Bengal) was from Bangladesh. Even Rabindranath Tagore had huge properties in Bangladesh and he did a lot of his literary works here,” said Imam.

Several Bangladesh leaders had criticised Shah’s termite and illegal immigrant comments in the past few weeks.

When the NRC issue was raised by the BJP and Modi in the run-up to the previous Parliamentary elections in 2014, many in neighbouring Bangladesh thought it was an empty rhetoric targeted towards Hindu voters in Assam.

But as the BJP went ahead with the completion of the NRC list – which is under the consideration of the Supreme Court – and heightened its anti-Bangladeshi immigrant pitch before the 2016 Assembly polls in Assam, the policy makers and people in Bangladesh began to feel worried.

“With the BJP using the NRC process as an election trump card, we cannot ignore the worst-case scenario of a human onslaught on our border by evicted Muslims from Assam. As recently as September 11, the BJP Secretary-General has said that those excluded from the NRC will be “detected, deleted and deported”. We can no longer ignore the jingoistic threats coming out of mid and high-level BJP politicians, many of whom see the migrant population as having links to various Islamist terror organisations,” Air Cdre Ishfaq Ilahi Choudhury (retd), a former officer of Bangladesh Air Force wrote in a recent article in Bangladesh newspaper Daily Star.


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