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Saturday , December 1 , 2012
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Court admits PIL on migrants

Guwahati, Nov. 30: Gauhati High Court today admitted a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking Indian citizenship for Hindu migrants who had fled to Assam from Bangladesh to escape alleged religious persecution or civil disturbances.

One Gopi Ghosh had filed the PIL (number 70/2012).

The petitioner’s counsel, Debashish Sur, said after admitting the PIL, a division bench of Chief Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice N. Kotiswar Singh issued notices to the Union home secretary, the chief secretary of Assam, Assam Accord implementation department and the state’s director-general of police, directing them to file their response to the PIL within a month.

Sur said Section 2 of Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950, provides protection to victims of civil disturbances from expulsion and therefore, the Hindus who migrated to the state from Bangladesh and erstwhile East Pakistan to escape religious persecution or civil disturbances cannot be considered illegal migrants.

“We have sought the court’s intervention for grant of Indian citizenship to people from the minority Hindu community in Bangladesh, who had no other option but to come to Assam after being driven out of that country,” he said. “It is a duty of the Indian government to give protection to such people.”

The issue of granting citizenship or refugee status to Hindu migrants from Bangladesh is contentious as several regional organisations, including the All Assam Students Union, is saying that any illegal migrant from Bangladesh who came to Assam after March 24, 1971, irrespective of their religion, should be deported from the country in accordance with the Assam Accord.

Contrary to that, BJP and Congress want refugee status for the Hindu Bangladeshi migrants.

The Assam Accord had fixed March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date for granting citizenship to illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

Sur said the case of Hindu migrants should be considered sympathetically, as victimisation of minorities in Bangladesh continued even after the cut-off date.