People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 22

June 03, 2012

Prakash Karat Writes to PM

On Bengali Refugees



CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on May 22, 2012 regarding the citizenship problems of the Bengali refugees. Below we publish the full text of the letter.


THIS is to draw your attention to the citizenship problems of the large number of refugees from erstwhile East Bengal and then even after the formation of Bangladesh who had to flee their country in particular historical circumstances over which they had no control. Their situation is different from those who have come to India due to economic reasons. While we advocate a humane approach to all sections, on the specific issue of citizenship we share the opinion you had strongly advocated as leader of the opposition when it was debated in parliament in 2003.


You will kindly recall that under the NDA government the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2003 was placed which did not differentiate between the different sections that would be affected by the Bill. At that time you had stated “… with regard to the treatment of refugees after the partition of our country, the minorities in countries like Bangladesh, have faced persecution, and it is our moral obligation, that if circumstances force people, these unfortunate people, to seek refuge in our country, approach to granting citizenship to these unfortunate persons should be more liberal. I sincerely hope that the Hon’ble Deputy Prime Minister bears this in mind in charting out the future course of action.”


In response to your appeal, the then Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani  had said “what the leader of the opposition has said, I am fully in agreement with the views expressed…” This should have been followed with a suitable amendment to Clause 2(i) (b) of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2003 in relation to the minority community refugees from Bangladesh. However, in spite of the consensus on the floor of the House, this was not done. For nearly a decade the matter has been pending. In the meanwhile, the insecurity felt by the refugees is heightened since in the present drive of Aadhar they are excluded and considered illegal migrants facing the constant threat of deportation. Lakhs of families are affected, the majority of them from Scheduled Caste communities like namashudra, pondra khatriya, majhi etc.


I request you to consider the issue and take the steps which you consider are necessary, including the amendment to the law referred to, so as to bring relief to these unfortunate families, living across India.