| Opposition leader Donkupar Roy in the Assembly on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos |
Shillong, June 12: The Meghalaya government has no record of Bangladeshis who entered the state on or before March 24, 1971, but there were more than 5,000 citizens from the neighbouring country who were detected and prosecuted for entering the state since 1972.
The revelation assumes significance as the Meghalaya High Court had last month reiterated that those who came to India on or before March 24, 1971 would not be sent back to Bangladesh, but those who came after the stipulated date would have to be deported to the neighbouring country.
Justice Sudip Ranjan Sen had delivered the judgment on May 15 following a petition filed by 40 people from Amjong village in Ri Bhoi district against the Meghalaya government, Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner, chief electoral officer, and census officials.
The court had also directed that the petitioners should be enrolled in the electoral roll before the next election.
Replying during question hour, chief minister Mukul Sangma replied in the negative when leader of the Opposition Donkupar Roy wanted to know the figures of such Bangladeshi nationals.
While no census had been undertaken to detect the presence of those who had come to Meghalaya from Bangladesh on or before March 24, 1971, Sangma said it was important to capture the citizens via the National Register of Indian Citizens.
On the high court ruling, the chief minister said the government has decided to contest the same.
He said as the state proceeds to capture the names of Indian citizens, it would help the government in differentiating the categories of Bangladeshi nationals.
Moreover, the chief minister informed the House that there were 5,735 Bangladeshi citizens who had entered the state since 1972. These were detected and prosecuted under relevant laws, he said.
Roy said it was not easy to detect Bangladeshi citizens, and suggested that the local village councils should be involved in detecting such nationals. To this, Sangma said all effective measures would be implemented.
The House also witnessed a heated moment when NPP legislator James P.K. Sangma wanted to know whether the 5,735 Bangladeshi citizens were deported.
The chief minister said it was the court which has to decide about the deportation of such nationals, and the government has to follow the courtís orders.
Personal attacks were also traded inside the Assembly, which prompted Roy to appeal to members from both sides of the House to refrain from resorting to personal attacks, as they were not in good taste. Some of the remarks were later expunged.