Sri Swapan Dasgupta, Rajya Sabha MP, writes in the TOI of January 13, 2019, under
the caption, “India has an obligation to those left on the ‘wrong’ side after Partition” as
The passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha last week has created convulsions in Assam and the rest of north- eastern India. There have been protests all over the region, the Asom Gana Parishad– an ally of the BJP– has walked out of the Sarbanand Sonowal ministry in Assam and the Meghalaya chief minister has expressed his government’s displeasure to the Centre. Although Home Minister Rajnath Singh tried to allay concerns over the erosion of regional identity, there is concern over the implicit negation of the Assam Accord of 1985 and troubles in the whole region if the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha next month.
As a member of the joint committee that examined the bill and visited Guwahati,
Silchar and Shillong in this connection, I am aware that the committee had the
daunting task of addressing some of the leftover complications of the Partition in
1947. This has involved exercising difficult options.
First, the bill proceeds on the assumption that religious minorities in both Pakistan and Bangladesh — and for that matter Afghanistan — are, in effect, unwanted citizens that look to India as the country of refuge. In (West) Pakistan the issue was resolved in the immediate aftermath of Partition when there was a near- total exodus of Hindus and Sikhs to India.
However, the exodus of Hindus and Buddhists from what is now Bangladesh happened in phases. But the process has been uninterrupted since 1947 and Bangladeshi Hindus still constitute 11% of the population there. Their sense of vulnerability remains high, especially in the rural areas, and the flight to India has been triggered almost entirely by religious persecution, not the least of which involves the safety of women.