The Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) on the backdrop of an uproarious atmosphere against the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh and Pakistan in Assam of northeast India raised a demand for concrete refugee policy for the country.
In a memorandum, sent to Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit recently, the nationalist people’s forum argued that India should have the refugee policy ‘to deal with the issue of immigrants logically and legally’ forever.
“We sincerely believe India should sign the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention. Moreover, our government has to ratify the 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees,” said the memorandum, signed by some distinguished personalities including Cologne (Germany) based eminent historian Dr Nirode K Barooah, former director general of National Museum Dr Rabin Dev Choudhury, eminent publisher Giripada Dev Choudhury, senior editor-journalist Dhirendra Nath Chakrabarty, award winning filmmaker Manju Bora, film personality Pranjal Saikia, IIT Kharagpur professor Gourishankar S Hiremath, Banaras Hindu University professor Anil K Rai, with others.
The memorandum also expressed concerns that few ‘recent misleading and manipulative statements by some individuals and organizations on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 issue’ were ‘trying to communalise the issue instead of helping to find an amicable solution’.
“The extremely volatile utterances targeting the Hindu Bengali community of Assam are deplorable and condemnable to say the least,” asserted the memorandum, also endorsed by Ravindra Nath, Dipannita Jaiswal, Jahnabi Goswami, Pranab Kr Sarma, Pranjal Saikia, Jitul Sonowal, Dr Subhra Kinkor Goswami, Onkareshwar Pandey, USA based non-resident Assamese Vavani Sarmah and Kalyan Dutta-Choudhury, etc.
“We are from this land of glorious civilization and culture and we feel that our spirit should be that of accommodation of Hindu, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs and other religious minorities who have had to face extreme suppression in erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and also West Pakistan and have been the true victims of Partition of India,” pointed out the memorandum, backed by Rupam Barua, Bidhayak Das, Braja Jyoti Sharma, Jagadindra Ray Choudhury, Pranab Kr Sharma, Girindra Kumar Karjee, Anjanil Kashyap, Anup Sarma, Gitika Talukder, Nava Thakuria, etc.
Appreciating the Union government in New Delhi for taking steps lately to provide shelter to the victims of partition across India, the PPFA clarified that the Hindu minorities in Bangladesh include not only Bengali, but also Rajbongshi, Hajong, Adivasi, Jayantiya and Bishnupriya communities.
Similarly, the Buddhists include Chakma and some Assamese people who fled to the Chittagong hill areas of Bangladesh during the Burmese invasion. The Christians include Bengali, Garo, Khasi and Adivasi people. All these people became the victims of Pakistan plan and Partition and had to live in a ‘foreign land,’ for the creation of which they were not responsible, commented the forum.
The memorandum, also approved by Utpal Dutta, Bobita Sarma, Prasenjit Chakrabarty, Bibekananda Choudhury, Namrata Dutta, Bhagawat Pritam, Tarali Chakrabarty, Nripen Dutta, Arun Sarkar, Akhyamala Bora, Sewali Kalita, Devjyoti Saikia, etc clarified that PPFA has no intention of communalizing the issue. But it wants to ‘provide a clear understanding of how history unfolded lest some vested interests and parochial mindsets for their own narrow political gains and cheap mileage would continue to resort to disturb the peace and tranquil atmosphere of Assam’, declared the memorandum.
Also added, “There is a need for a solution to this vexed issue and we would fully agree if those that have been truly victimized owing to the partition and religious persecution are given a place not just in Assam but in all other States of India, a country where the underlying tenets of democracy are tolerance, secularism and freedom of religion, faith, practice and freedom of expression.”