The ongoing process of the National Register of Citizens in India’s Assam state may result in a mass displacement of Bangalis from the region and create another refugee crisis for Bangladesh, senior officials of the Bangladesh government said on Wednesday.
According to the Indian national daily The Hindu
, officials during their New Delhi visit said the situation in Assam was “threatening” India-Bangladesh ties and would be exploited by “anti-India elements and Islamic fundamentalists” who are opposing the Awami League rule.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Media Affairs Adviser Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury said the citizenship issue would be “another disappointment after the setback on the Teesta water sharing agreement.”
He said Bangladesh believes India should think of its ties with the country before going ahead with “the full implementation of the citizens register in Assam.”
He further said if the process led to the exodus of a section of the Bangali population of Assam “it would trigger another Rohingya-like refugee crisis.”
The Hindu reports that Bangladeshi policy-makers agreed that the failure to conclude the Teesta water sharing agreement between Dhaka and New Delhi “has been disappointing and the ongoing process in Assam will complicate the situation further.”
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reiterated the same sentiment on Tuesday, saying it was sad that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee did not want to allow the Teesta deal.
The report further said these observations have gained significance as a section of the ruling party believes that India has not reciprocated the prime minister’s support on “counter-insurgency steps in the northeastern states.”
The officials reportedly said the Awami League government under Sheikh Hasina, “without any expectation of reciprocity,” supported India in apprehending ULFA leaders who had taken refuge in Bangladesh. However, all that effort will go in vain, undoing bilateral cooperation, if there is a new refugee flow from Assam.
With two major floods in 2017 and the Rohingya crisis, further turmoil caused by the citizen register in Assam will add to the volatility of the country ahead of the general polls, the officials added.
They further said the citizen register in Assam was “reminiscent of the communalism of the 1940s.”