New initiative for Indian citizenship has no connection with Teesta water sharing01 August 2016 Editorial Desk
The Indian government's decision to open admission facilities to members of religious minorities now living illegally in the country from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan under a Self-Financing Scheme to study in medical and engineering courses is a highly appreciable move. Indeed it is part of a broader scheme to give citizenship to illegal people in India from the three countries and a bill has already been placed before Indian Parliament to amend the Indian citizenship act in July this year. People to come under the citizenship scheme will not be required to provide supporting documents for this purpose.
The citizenship scheme will allow migrants to become Indian national and enjoy all facilities including buying properties. The scheme for migrant students as a media report said is expected to further improve their career perspectives. They will be selected on the basis of academic merit without appearing any admission test. Ever since the BJP-led government came to power in 2014, it made several pledges to migrants such as Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and others that fit with BJP's Hindutva politics to integrate such people in mainstream Indian society.
But many fear that the move may create problems many other ways although it will go a long way to mitigate the hassles of the migrants.
The Indian government's simultaneous move to expel the so-called Muslim settlers from Indian state of Assam or BJP's new move to expel Bengalees from West Bengal appears to complicate a good initiative. The BJP led Assam government has already made it clear that they are working on a scheme to expel Muslim settlers. But we know that the larger part of Muslim population in Assam is local people and the settlers community also have their origin from British India.
What appears quite disturbing is that leaders of the West Bengal BJP have recently urged the Indian Home Minister to stay back from any initiative to sign the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement with Bangladesh until the fate of illegal settlers in West Bengal being settled. What they meant their expulsion to Bangladesh. We know many Hindus left the country to settle in West Bengal but they did on their own choice. Indian government is also working to give citizenship to them.
There is hardly any reason for Muslims to migrate to West Bengal. Even most enclave people who opted for India in recent land swap are reportedly yarning to come back. It is our fear that some BJP leaders may be working to complicate the situation for domestic politics.
It will show ill motive if India looks for excuses to delay settlement of Teesta water sharing. Why Teesta issue should be connected with resettlement issue of Indian government is simply not understandable.
Teesta water sharing is long overdue and any setback is bound to backfire peaceful relations; which will be even difficult for Awami League government, a trusted ally of India, to withstand.
Hindu people may feel more tempted now to cross over to India to permanently live there for no fault of Bangladesh but to achieve new citizenship. It may be hastened as a section of ruling party men may install fear to force the Hindus to leave to grab their property.
A highly complex situation is going to arise and in our view the India government should use the new citizenship programme to be helpful to the people in need without going to create new problems for others. It is a highly sensitive issue and may become counter-productive at the end to disturb peace now prevailing in Bangladesh.
People of Bangladesh feel that our government's too-eagerness to have Indian government's support makes India more confident to neglect our people's hopes and aspirations.