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NRC India’s ‘internal matter’, but cautious Dhaka says keeping ‘close watch’

Sources said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, during his visit to Dhaka, had said that it was India’s internal matter. Jaishankar’s remarks came after he held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart, A K Abdul Momen, earlier this month.

This was the first time the Bangladesh government had publicly expressed concern over Assam’s NRC process.

As Assam’s final National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published Saturday, where over 19 lakh people were excluded, Dhaka remained cautious, sticking to the line that New Delhi has assured that the process of documenting and identifying illegal immigrants in Assam is India’s “internal matter”.

Sources said External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, during his visit to Dhaka, had said that it was India’s internal matter.

Jaishankar’s remarks came after he held talks with his Bangladeshi counterpart, A K Abdul Momen, earlier this month.

Home Minister Amit Shah had recently raised the issue of illegal immigration with Bangladesh. The issue was flagged before Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at the seventh meeting of India-Bangladesh Home Minister-level Talks (HMLT) held in New Delhi.

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“Home Minister Amit Shah raised India’s concern regarding illicit movement of undocumented persons across the border, with a view to find solutions to this problem especially in North East India,” according to the statement issued by the government following the meet.

READ | Here’s how to check if your name is on Assam’s NRC

While officials and senior government functionaries in Dhaka told The Sunday Express that India’s official position has been that Bangladesh need not worry about it, they are keeping a “close watch” on the development. Some officials pointed out that Bangladesh Foreign Minister Momen had, in July this year, expressed concerns over the impact.

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“While we should not be worried, there is some anxiety after reading news reports,” Momen had told a Bangladesh TV channel on July 13. “We are already in much difficulty with the 11 lakh [Rohingya refugees]. We can’t take any more [refugees]. Bangladesh is the most densely populated country on the planet.”

Momen had denied that the people identified under the NRC process in Assam were Bangladeshi immigrants. “The people who have been there for 75 years, they are their [India’s] citizens, not ours,” he had said.

This was the first time the Bangladesh government had publicly expressed concern over Assam’s NRC process.

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In 2018, after the NRC’s first draft listed 40 lakh undocumented migrants, Bangladesh denied it has anything to do with the matter. “We see this as an internal, local political issue with Indian state of Assam,” Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul-Haque Inu had said.

First published on: 01-09-2019 at 01:36:57 am
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