Home Asia Bangladesh Agrees to Take Back Illegal Migrants

Bangladesh Agrees to Take Back Illegal Migrants



In a first, Bangladesh has agreed to take back 33 of its nationals declared infiltrators by various foreigners tribunals in Assam. These migrants are currently in various detention camps.

Bangladesh had identified 152 of its nationals lodged in the camps and written to the external affairs ministry proposing repatriation in batches.

Dhaka’s decision will not only add a new dimension to the bonhomie between the two countries, but will also change the tone and tenor of the agitations for and against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the National Register of Citizens, whose final draft will be out on June 30. Earlier, Bangladesh, especially under Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party, would deny the presence of its citizens on Indian soil.

Additional DGP (special branch) Pallab Bhattacharya told media that Bangladesh’s decision was a “goodwill gesture” because there is no repatriation or deportation treaty between the two countries. “Bangladesh’s assistant high commissioner, based in Guwahati, recently toured the detention camps and met the convicted infiltrators,” he said.

Bhattacharya said the Centre, in 2013, had issued instructions to Assam not to push back but deport the illegal foreigners to Bangladesh. He said the addresses of the persons in the detention camps were shared with Bangladesh. “After Bangladesh verified the addresses, it became clear that they are Bangladeshi citizens. Being declared as a foreigner by a tribunal does not necessarily mean that the person is from Bangladesh,” he added.

So far, there has been no official figure on the number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants in Assam. In a white paper, the state government said: “Following the Partition and communal riots in the subcontinent, Assam initially saw an influx of refugees and other migrants from (erstwhile) East Pakistan. The number of such migrants other than refugees was initially reported by the state government to be between 1,50,000 and 2,00,000 but later estimated to be around 5,00,000.”

It said that between 1985 and 2017, only 2,528 persons were ‘pushed back’ after being declared illegal foreigners. India could not deport them officially because of the absence of an extradition or deportation treaty. These migrants would return soon after they were physically pushed back into Bangladesh.