India on Monday assured Bangladesh that the proposed National Register of Citizens exercise – to identify undocumented migrants – will not affect Bangladesh as it was a process that was entirely “internal”, reported PTI. The remarks came a day after a delegation from Bangladesh cancelled their India tour, which was scheduled to begin on Monday.
India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla made the remarks at an event in Dhaka during his visit to Bangladesh. “Updation of National Register of Citizens is a process that is entirely internal to India,” he said. “India assures Bangladesh that NRC will have no implications for the country and its people.”
In October last year, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had said that she was satisfied with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi’s assurance that Bangladesh should not be concerned about the National Register of Citizens in Assam.
Earlier, Bangladesh had reportedly raised concerns about the deportation of those unable to prove their citizenship during the NRC exercise in Assam. The final list of bonafide citizens was published on August 31, and excluded more than 19 lakh people. Foreigners’ tribunals will now review their cases.
However, the Citizenship Amendment Act, passed by Parliament on December 11 last year, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it.
Meanwhile, apart from Sunday’s cancellation, three Bangladesh ministers have earlier skipped their visits to India. In January, Bangladesh Deputy Foreign Minister Shahriar Alam cancelled a scheduled visit to New Delhi to attend the Ministry of External Affairs’ annual Raisina Dialogue Conference. Alam’s decision to not visit India came after Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen cancelled his three-day India visit on December 12 and a day later his Cabinet colleague, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, cancelled a scheduled personal visit to Meghalaya’s capital Shillong.