SILCHAR, Dec 5: A joint action committee of Association for the Refugees in India along with 7 other organizations spread over different parts of the country is going to organize a tiol convention in New Delhi on December 16. The convention, as pointed out by Prithwish Dasgupta, an important functiory of the Association, will discuss the problems of refugees from East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, sheltered in various states of the country. They continue to live in uncertainty and face stark fate.
It is on account of religious persecution in the country of their origin and settlement that they have been forced to desert their ancestral homes and seek shelter in this country. Most unfortute, in Assam, the spectre of ‘D’ voters haunts them. Some of them have been sent to detention camps, others face trial and even eviction from the country. All these are going on, Dasgupta pointed out, in flagrant violations of the assurances of the leaders just after the partition of the country.
Benimadhab Roy associated with Refugee Joint Action Committee of Assam rued that no legislation by the Parliament has been ected till date to protect the refugees. Referring to the Notification of September 7 issued by the Central Government, he said it would serve no purpose for the unfortute people. There is no word on granting of citizenship to them in the said Notification. For the protection of the refugees from West Pakistan, the Centre has ected 6 legislations in the Parliament. It is yet another glaring example of discrimition between the refugees from East and West Pakistan.
The fate of the refugees, according to Dr. D N Mandal of Solidarity Committee for Bengali Refugees, New Delhi, has been most affected due to a directive of the then Congress Government making March 25, 1971 as the cutoff date for those who have entered Assam from the neighboring country. Still, more complications have been created by adding section 2 (1) (B) in the Act of 2003 for refugees. This has put both the refugees and infiltrators on the same level. The latest Notification of the Centre speaks of giving shelter and not citizenship.
Dr Mandal apprehended thousands of people on that basis will become stateless. He strongly pleaded for amendment of section 2 (1) (B) of the Act of 2003 which alone can resolve the problem of refugees in granting citizenship. Bipani Thakur, chief advisor, All India Refugee United Association, claimed no political party for the last 13 years has fought for the refugees and raised its voice against the Act of 2003. It is because of the joint move and movement of the Association for the Refugees in India and other organizations that all the political parties and the Government at the Centre have come under pressure.
Bipani Thakur has called upon the refugees across the country to get united and fight to pressure the politicians to amend the Act of 2003. The present NDA Government will be compelled to amend. The process of NRC which is in its fil stage has created a sense of panic among the refugees of Assam who are virtually directionless. In order to find a solution to all these burning issues plaguing the refugees, the convention has been convened, she has appealed to people in general to attend it and help the organizers to chart out defined course of future action.