Bangladesh Hindus refugee status opposed in India

Bengali-speaking Hindus from Bangladesh facing religious persecution should be refused official refugee status in India, according to the opposition Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) political party.

Governor Janaki Ballabh Patnaik of Assam received a memo from the group on 19 July objecting to the state cabinet’s acceptance of the displaced people group found in the province due to its location near Bangladesh, West Bengal and Tripura, according to The Times of India (20 July). The refugees also include Buddhists, Garos, Rajbongshis, Adivasi tribals and Bishnupriya Manipuris.

Atul Bora, AGP President, said: “We believe all illegal foreigners should be treated equally irrespective of religion. The state has taken a lot of burden in this regard. We have already accepted those who had entered the territory before March 25, 1971. We want the governor to intervene and do the needful.”

The AGP started the anti-foreign movement in 1985 and the party leadership believes accepting the refugees officially would cause problems for the state. Illegal citizenship has been a contentious issue for years in the area.

Governor Patnaik responded that he would discuss the matter with President Pranab Mukherjee. Meanwhile the AGP plans several agitation measures against the Government in the forthcoming days to express its view. The All Assam Students Union has also criticized the decision.