New Delhi: Bangladesh has sought a written assurance from the Narendra Modi government that it won’t send immigrants across the border after the enactment of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), multiple sources told ThePrint.
The move came even as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina continues to face criticism for being “soft” on New Delhi over the issue of National Register of Citizens (NRC), the sources said.
The Bangladesh government had made a similar demand when Hasina was on a private visit to India in October months after the NRC exercise was carried out in Assam, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.
At the time, India had given a verbal assurance to Bangladesh that those rendered “foreigners” under the NRC in Assam will not be sent to Bangladesh. However, it had refused to give a written assurance, stating that the exercise was carried out as per directions of the Supreme Court, said the sources.
However, after the passage of CAA in Parliament this month, fresh concerns have cropped up within the political leadership in Bangladesh that India may now “push” Muslim immigrants deemed illegal under the Act across the border, the sources said.
Now the Indian government does not have compulsions of the court, so a written assurance will not be difficult, added the sources. However, they added, India does not seem to have given any kind of assurance to Dhaka yet that such a sovereign guarantee will be given.
The passage of CAA, which provides for citizenship to six non-Muslim communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, provoked massive protests across India amid fears that the proposed NRC in conjunction with CAA could result in targeting of Muslims. The government has said there have been “no discussions” on NRC.
The matter was also discussed Sunday when Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) chief Shafeenul Islam visited India with a delegation to hold DG-level border talks.
Addressing a press conference concluding his visit, Islam said NRC is an “internal affair of the government” but refused to comment when asked about the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Meanwhile, in Bangladesh, the Sheikh Hasina government is having a tough time pacifying opposing voices questioning her “inability” to hammer out an “assurance” from India despite having a good rapport with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
For Hasina, the situation has gone from bad to worse after India reportedly detained around 60 illegal Bangladeshi immigrants from Bengaluru and took them to Kolkata to deport them back to Dhaka in November.
Earlier this month, a senior Bangladeshi diplomat was even attacked in Guwahati during protests against the CAA.
A visit to India by Bangladesh Foreign Affairs Minister A.K. Abdul Momen and Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan was also cancelled as tensions peaked in India over the CAA.