FROM OUR Special Correspondent
SILCHAR, February 2: The Hindu Bengalis taking shelter in Assam and other states from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, might hope for relief from being hounded up by police and branded ‘D’ voters, particularly in Assam, for facing trial before the Foreigners’ Tribuls and their ibility to prove themselves as Indian citizens would entitle them for push back to the other side of the border. The Supreme Court of India in considering the W(P) 243/12 filled before it by NGO Swajan and Bimolangshu Roy Foundation on the question of the fate of Bengali Hindus has issued notices to 18 States including Assam and the Centre and wanted to know the exact status and the numbers of Hindus taking shelter after being forced to desert their hearths and homes in Bangladesh, erstwhile East Pakistan.
The Supreme Court has also wanted to know how many of them have been granted citizenship and what the government concerned is thinking about them or contemplating to take any decision. The notice was issued by two member Bench of the Apex Court headed by Chief Justice P Sathashivam and Justice Ranjan Gogoi. The notice is returble at their earliest disposal as directed.
Shuvodeep Roy, advocate who was one of the petitioners along with Pinky Anda and M N Krishmani, told The Sentinel over telephone from New Delhi that the Writ Petition came in for hearing today before the two member Bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Arun Misra. Roy and Manoj Goel, advocate, appeared on behalf of the two NGOs and submitted their arguments, justifying the demand of citizenship and sought time for further placement of their views.
Additiol Solicitor General of the Government of India, P S Patwali, appearing on behalf of the Union Government, said a policy decision on the crucial matter is under the active consideration of the Union Home Ministry and sought six weeks time to submit a comprehensive policy before the Apex Court. After due consideration of the submissions of the NGOs and the Centre, the Supreme Court allowed eight weeks time to submit their contentions before it. Suvodeep Roy considered the development as a positive hope which would provide relief to the much harassed Bengali Hindu refugees in particular.
He said that their Writ Petition centered round three main grounds for the consideration of the Supreme Court. The Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act of 1950 which specifically lays down that the Hindus taking shelter in India after being persecuted in Bangladesh should not be deported. Secondly, they have to be provided all sorts of facilities and treated as refugees. The Hindus taking shelter in Gujarat and Rajasthan after facing persecution in Pakistan have been granted citizenship between 2004 and 2007. On the strength of the same Citizenship Act, the Writ Petition asked why Hindus from Bangladesh seeking shelter in Assam and other States should not be granted citizenship?