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Sylhet border security increased after Assam NRC publication

  • Published at 08:56 pm August 31st, 2019
File photo Dhaka Tribune

Bangladesh has not committed to accepting the 1.9 million people who have been excluded from the NRC

The borders of Sylhet have been put on high alert after India published the final National Register of Citizens (NRC), stripping 1.9 million people of citizenship.

Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB), along with police have beefed up their surveillance at the border areas on Saturday.

The police stations and border outposts are staying alert in Kanaighat, Zakiganj, and Bianibazar upazila in Sylhet, which share borders with Assam. 

Superintendent of police of Sylhet district Mohammad Farid Uddin said, BGB usually remains alert always at the border areas.

"India’s Assam issue is not likely to affect the Sylhet border areas but the police are still on alert," he said.

Sylhet-based BGB 19 battalion chief Lt Col Syed Hossain said that they are prepared to tackle any untoward incident at the border. 

“Although the list is for Assam, all the borders under battalion 19 have been instructed to remain on high alert. The locals of those areas have also been notified,” he said.

However, the situation is currently peaceful, Hossain said. 

 “BGB has been asked to be more vigilant keeping Assam in mind. We are also monitoring whether the situation deteriorates in Assam,” he added.

NRC potentially leaves out 1.9 million stateless

On Saturday, India published the final National Register of Citizens (NRC), a list of genuine citizens in the state of Assam, excluding 1.9 million people amid fears they could be rendered stateless.

Last July, more than four million people in the north-eastern state were excluded from the final draft list of citizens published by the Registrar General of India.

India's home ministry has said people whose names do not appear in the final NRC cannot be declared foreigners till all legal options are exhausted.

Every person left out of the NRC can appeal to the Foreigners Tribunal, and the time limit to file the appeal has been extended from 60 to 120 days.

The home ministry said, at least 1,000 tribunals will be set up in phases to hear disputes; 100 tribunals are already open, and 200 more will be set up in the first week of September.

If one loses the case in the tribunal, one can approach the High Court, and then the Supreme Court.

No one will be put in detention centres until all legal options are exhausted, the government said.

Prior to the publication of the final NRC, there was speculation that the number of excluded would vary from a minimum of 1-1.2 million to a maximum of 2.0-2.2 million — roughly half of the 4.1 million put on two exclusion lists on Jul 30, 2018, and Jun 26 this year.

Officials in Assam say they do not know what will eventually be done with those who are finally adjudged as foreigners. Bangladesh has not committed to accepting them. 

More than 1,000 people are being held in Assam’s six detention centres for illegal immigrants, and the state governmentsaid it seeks to set up more centres. Human rights activists have criticized conditions at the centres,lawyers and activists have outlined problems with the functioning of the foreigners’ tribunals.