Bangla prisoners await Dispur nod

Bangladesh assistant high commissioner Kazi Muntashir Murshed (centre) outside the Kokrajhar jail recently. Picture by Sumir Karmakar

Guwahati: Bangladesh is awaiting the Assam government’s nod for more than a month for repatriation of 14 of its nationals lodged in Tezpur jail who have already completed their jail term for illegally entering the state.

Bangladesh assistant high commissioner Kazi Muntashir Murshed, who visited four jails recently, submitted a list of 14 nationals to the state home department, after verification of their addresses in Bangladesh, for repatriation.

“We collected their details and verified with officials in our country that they are Bangladeshi nationals. We have completed all the formalities and now the Assam government can send them back to Bangladesh. I had submitted the list to the home department a month ago and we hope they will be repatriated soon. Their families in Bangladesh are repeatedly calling me,” he said on Thursday.

Murshed visited jails in Silchar, Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Tezpur and talked to the Bangladeshi nationals after a man approached him for release of his daughter from a jail in Assam. There are 51 Bangladeshi nationals in Goalpara, 34 in Silchar, 23 in Tezpur and three in Kokrajhar jails.

“They have all completed their jail terms and are waiting to return home. We are also verifying the addresses of the rest of the inmates, before submitting the list to the state government, for repatriation,” he said.

An official in the state home department said necessary steps would be taken soon.

The move comes at a time when a part draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) to segregate Indian citizens and Bangladeshi migrants living illegally in Assam was released on midnight December 31. The NRC is being updated with March 24, 1971 as cut-off date to identify foreigners.

The Guwahati office of Bangladesh assistant high commissioner was opened on March 24, 2017, before Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited India in April.

Before the office was opened here, 17 Bangladeshis lodged in Silchar jail in the Barak Valley were repatriated in January 2017 while 10 from the same jail were sent back in October. They had crossed the Kushiyara river that divides the two countries in Cachar district and were arrested for entering India illegally.

According to the BJP-led government in Assam, 4,022 Bangladeshis who had entered India illegally have been identified since it came to power in May 2016 and 30 of them have been repatriated.

Asked about his reaction to the NRC, Murshed said, “We have nothing to say since it is an internal issue of India. But we are definitely keeping a watch since the name of Bangladesh is used by the people and the media here.”

SUMIR KARMAKAR Telegraph India

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