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Cong no to refugee status for intruders

Cong no to refugee status for intruders

Author: Times News Network
Publication: The Times of India - Intern Edition
Date: November 5, 2001

Kolkata: West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pranab Mukherjee is against declaring as refugees people who are arriving in the state from Bangladesh for shelter after facing religious and political persecution in the wake of the election victory of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

"This is likely to aggravate the problem," he said in Kolkata on Sunday. Mukherjee feared that this would worsen further the problem already prevailing in West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Besides, the arrival of a large number of refugees could create communal tension. Mukherjee was in favour of "nipping the problem in the bud" through requests to the Bangladesh government to do something about it.

For this, Mukherjee would soon speak to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and home minister L.K.Advani. "Bangladesh is a sovereign country and we can't do anything about this problem. Still, India can take up the issue with Bangladesh as it is a friendly country," he said.

The formation of Bangladesh in 1971 had been a watershed, so far as the stand of India on the question of refugees was concerned, he said. Before that, India had declared that people of minority communities in former East Pakistan could come to India as refugees. But, since Bangladesh was a secular country, India did not have reasons to continue with such a commitment.

The WBPCC did not have any estimate of how many people had entered the state from Bangladesh in recent weeks. Those who were arriving were easily mixing with the local population in places near the border and evading detection, he said.
 


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