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Dominant in 70-75 Assembly Seats, Bengal Refugees Hit the Streets to Demand Ordinance for Citizenship Bill

There are about five crore refugees in India, out of which three crore are in West Bengal alone. They make for a significant voting percentage for political parties in Bengal.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:November 22, 2019, 10:55 AM IST
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Dominant in 70-75 Assembly Seats, Bengal Refugees Hit the Streets to Demand Ordinance for Citizenship Bill
Representational photo.

Kolkata: The Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samanway Samiti (NBBUSS), a refugee welfare organisation, on Friday demanded that the central government promulgate an ordinance to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Parliament.

Speaking to News18, NBBUSS president Bipul Chandra Bepari said, “Today, we are holding a protest rally in Kolkata’s Ramlila Park in Entally area to demand an unconditional and automatic grant of citizenship to the victims of partition who came from Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) by suitable amendment of Citizenship Act, 1955 in the current Parliament session.”

Bepari questioned why the government wasn’t bringing an ordinance if it was facing hurdles in passing the Bill. “In September 2019, President Ram Nath Kovind cleared the ordinance making ‘triple talaq’ a punishable offence that was moved by the central government. In the triple talaq case, they brought the ordinance because the government had failed to pass the bill through both houses of the Parliament.”

“The problem is that refugees were fooled by political parties in the name of votes. Today, we have invited all the political parties and we will support those who will stand for our cause. We have written several letters to the Union home ministry but nothing has been done. Our all India president Dr. Subodh Biswas, who lives in Maharashtra, even briefed our concern to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. We are hopeful that in this Parliament session our long pending demand will be resolved,” he said.

There are about five crore refugees in India, out of which three crore are in West Bengal alone. They make for a significant voting percentage for political parties in Bengal.

BJP president Amit Shah is ready with his ‘master stroke’ to secure the confidence of nearly 40-45 per cent Matua voters in nearly 70 assembly segments through Citizenship (Amendment) Bill ahead of the 2021 Assembly Polls in West Bengal.

The bill is a long pending demand of the refugees (majority of them being Matuas) who entered India from Bangladesh after 1971. They have voting rights in Bengal, but as per the Citizenship Bill they are not Indians because as per Article 6 of the Constitution, anybody who entered India from East or West Pakistan after July 19, 1948 must apply for citizenship and the year 1971 automatically falls under this category.

Refugees, particularly the Matuas, helped the BJP win 9-10 seats out of 18 constituencies in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Most of these refugees are settled in North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas, Nadia, Burdwan, Midnapore, Birbhum and in Dinajpore.

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