National Register of Citizens in Assam Can Spoil Indo-Bangladesh Ties!

What is developing with the process of compiling National Register of Citizens in Assam can be quite devastating for both the countries. If this is implemented in Assam, the Bangladesh authorities are concerned that it will trigger mass exodus of refugees to Bangladesh from Assam

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National Register of Citizens in Assam Can Spoil Indo-Bangladesh Ties
National Register of Citizens in Assam Can Spoil Indo-Bangladesh Ties
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If the South Asian neighbors of India accuse her of a big brother attitude, nowhere it is more evident than in Indo-Bangladesh relation. Sheikh Hasina’s government has been traditionally pro-India and she has extended her largesse time and again towards India. However, those favors are not reciprocated by the Indian government.

India’s selfishness towards Bangladesh has been till date orchestrated not only by the successive central governments but equally by Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of West Bengal. It was at Ms. Banerjee’s behest that Ganga and Teesta dispute still remains, and Dhaka is deeply dissatisfied with the share of water they receive.

So much so, for the Indo-Bangladesh ongoing disputes! However, what is developing with the process of compiling National Register of Citizens in Assam can be quite devastating for both the countries. If this is implemented in Assam, the Bangladesh authorities are concerned that it will trigger a mass exodus of refugees to Bangladesh from Assam.

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Already, Bangladeshi government is struggling with the refugee crisis of Rohingyas. Over and above, if, the burden of crores of Bengali Muslims is imposed on to them, it is unlikely that they can sustain it.

Citizenship issue will be another disappointment after the setback on the sharing of water of the river Teesta. We believe India should think of its friendship with Bangladesh before going ahead with the full implementation of the citizens register in Assam.

“If the process leads to deportation of a section of the Bengali population of Assam, it will trigger another Rohingya-like refugee crisis,” said Iqbal Shobhan Chowdhury, media adviser to Prime Minister Hasina.

There is unanimity among the policymakers of Bangladesh that following the disappointment of Teesta water sharing agreement between India and Bangladesh, ongoing development in Assam will complicate the matter exponentially.

Prime Minister Hasina reflected this sentiment on Tuesday and said, “It’s sad that ‘Didimoni’ (West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee) does not want to give the share of Teesta’s water that belongs to us.”

Bangladeshi policymakers think that India has not reciprocated the good and helpful gesture of Bangladesh and instead have taken steps that have been harmful to Dhaka. Bangladesh has supported India with counter-insurgency steps in the North East. 

New Delhi’s stand on Assam is almost like a Two-nation theory, where Hindus are allowed to live in India and Muslim being driven away to Bangladesh.

“If someone has lived in a place for some time, then he or she is presumed to belong to that place and they should have the freedom to stay where they are located. But the (exercise reflects the) the two-nation theory and it seems that Muslims are meant to live in Bangladesh and Hindus will live in India as if Bangladesh is a successor to Pakistan,” said Mashiur Rahman, senior civil servant and Economic Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

It is quite evident that India is making mistake in Assam. It will result in enormous chaos, sufferings, conflict, and mayhem. It will have a far-reaching impact not only on bilateral relationship with Bangladesh but also on the states neighboring Assam. There is still time for sanity to prevail and this measure should be rolled back.