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Deportation going through sticky patch

2013 India-Bangladesh deportation policy spells doom for Assam

GUWAHATI, May 28: Expulsion of declared Bangladeshis from Assam has been going through a sticky patch since 2013 when the UPA government at the Centre adopted a policy with its Bangladesh counterparts – allowing only deportation, not pushing back.

According to the policy adopted by India and Bangladesh in 2013, India is not supposed to push back any Bangladeshi detected or declared so in India. The policy spells it out that India should send the addresses of the detected Bangladeshis to Bangladesh for verification of their addresses. India can deport such declared or detected foreigners only after Bangladesh sends back the addresses after verification and clarifies that those caught in India are Bangladeshis.

This new policy effective from March 2013 sounds smooth but not in true sense of the term when put into practice. Under this policy, India cannot push back any Bangladeshis even after their declaration by foreigners tribunals or courts. Going by the policy, after declaration of people of suspected nationalities as Bangladeshis by tribunals or courts in India the addresses of the declared people are sent to Bangladesh regularly, but responses (address verification reports) from Bangladesh are hardly forthcoming. Left with no alternative, Assam has to send all such detected foreigners to the detention camps that are going to be overcrowded. The dilly-dallying tactics being followed by Bangladesh in verifying the addresses of declared Bangladeshis in Assam makes one to question the very intention of the neighbouring country – if it is at all interested to take back its citizens from India or not.

Statistics on declaration and deportation of Bangladeshis in Assam can make the problem crystal clear. From 2013 to 2017 only 86 foreigners declared as Bangladeshis by tribunals and courts in Assam have been either pushed back or deported to Bangladeshis. Eleven of 86 declared Bangladeshis were pushed back and the remaining 75 were deported. In 2013 only 11 Bangladeshis were pushed back and as many were deported to Bangladesh with the new policy banning the practice of pushing back. In 2014 only 24 Bangladeshis were deported, only one in 2015, only 13 in 2016 and only 26 in 2017. In such a dismal situation, Dispur has no alternative but to send all such declared foreigners to the six detention camps in the State. The detention camps with as many as 951 detenus as in March 2018 seem to be running short of space with more and more illegal foreigners being declared as Bangladeshis in Assam.

Running counter to this dismal deportation statistics, since 1985 as many as 29,738 Bangladeshis were either pushed back or deported to Bangladesh. As many as 3226 Bangladeshis were pushed back to Bangladesh in 1988 alone, the highest of its kind till today.

According to sources, the State Political Department is worried over the dilly-dallying tactics having adopted by Bangladesh in the verification of the addresses of declared Bangladeshis in India. “After sending addresses of declared Bangladeshis, response from the other end is hardly forthcoming these days. We’re yet to get any response from the neighbouring country on 284 addresses of declared Bangladeshis in Assam,” a source in the department said.

Making a Bangladeshi-free Assam being one of the poll promises of the BJP in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the onus of pursuing the issue with the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre lies with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal so as to make the Bangladesh government to verify addresses of their citizens detected and declared in Assam on a fast track. If this is not done, it is more than certain that spending crores of rupees on foreigners tribunals for detection of Bangladeshis will be farcical.

About the author

Ankur Kalita