Dhaka: Bangladesh has agreed to take back its 53 nationals lodged in various jails in Assam, in a positive move towards improved diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and India, officials confirmed on Thursday. In January last year, 17 Bangladeshi nationals, who were detained at Silchar Central Jail, were repatriated to Bangladesh through the international border in Karimganj.
According to Assam has witnessed a series of protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Bill essentially proposes to make minority (non-Muslim) illegal immigrants from three neighbouring countries — Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan — eligible for Indian citizenship. The state is also updating its National Register of Citizens (NRC) to identify illegal immigrants in Assam.
LS Changsan, Principal Secretary, home and political department, told The Indian Express, “These are convicted Bangladeshi nationals — convicted of committing some offences or violation of Passport (Entry into India) Act. They have completed their sentence in the jail and now their nationality verification has been done and accepted by Bangladesh. Bangladesh has given them travel permits.”
Changsan added the date of their journey was being worked out. “Bangladesh has a problem with people who have been declared as Bangladeshis by our Foreigner Tribunals. These people (who would be taken back by Bangladesh) are the ones who have been convicted by the judicial courts,” she said.
Changsan explained that there is a difference between Bangladeshi citizens convicted by judicial courts in India and those convicted by the Foreigners Tribunal — detected and declared as a “foreign national” and “illegal migrant”.
Pallav Bhattacharyya, Special DGP (Special Branch), hailed this step as a furthering of diplomatic relations between the two countries. “We should take all opportunities to settle our issues,” he said.