Nothing to worry about Assam NRC

DHAKA (The Daily Star/ANN) - For Bangladeshis, there is nothing to fear about Assam's National Register of Citizens, says Indian minister of state for external affairs.

For Bangladeshis, there is nothing to fear about Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC), Indian Minister of State for External Affairs General Vijay Kumar Singh (Rtd) said yesterday.

India will not do anything that is harmful for its neighbour Bangladesh, he said while meeting 15 Bangladeshi journalists at the South Block of the Indian external affairs ministry in New Delhi.

Vijay said the NRC process was nothing new. “It started in the 1950s and now the government is carrying it out in Assam following the order of the Supreme Court. 

“It'll take quite some time to implement it,” he told the journalists, who are visiting the Indian capital under a familiarisation programme.  

A draft of the NRC, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants in Assam, was published on July 30, leaving out around 40.7 lakh people. It raised serious concerns among the people soon publication.

Vijay also replied to several queries from the journalists on different issues, including the Teesta water treaty, Rohingya issue and the upcoming national elections in Bangladesh.

Queried on the Teesta issue, the minister said it was up to “Mamatadi” (West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee). “She has her own view about the Teesta. She is in opposition mode. She is proving her part to gain popularity among the voters.

“It will take a little time. But it will be resolved.”

On the election, Vijay said, “As a friendly neighbour, India always wants what is good for Bangladesh.

“Democracy is difficult. People of Bangladesh would decide what is good for their country. We have to accept whatever the people of Bangladesh choose.”

In a separate meeting with the journalists, Indian Foreign Secretary Shri Vijay Gokhale said Bangladesh and India have a long historical relationship.

Regarding the Rohingya issue, he said India fully understood the concerns of Bangladesh. So India is trying to offer whatever support it could extend for the Rohingya refugees.

Earlier in the morning, the journalists held another meeting with scholars from Observer Research Forum (ORF), a policy-making organisation.

Asked about recent statements by some BJP leaders that Bangla speaking people from Assam would be sent to Bangladesh, Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, senior fellow at ORF, said, “Those are just political speeches. Political leaders say those to gain vote.”

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