Terming the National Register of Citizens exercise in Assam as India's internal affair, a top Bangladeshi official Friday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has personally assured premier, Sheikh Hasina, that people excluded from the NRC list would not be deported to the country.
The Supreme-court monitored update of the NRC is an exercise to identify genuine Indian nationals residing in Assam. A political controversy was triggered after the final draft list published on July 30 excluded more than 40 lakh people from the list.
"Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi personally assured our premier that those who were excluded from the list under the NRC exercise will not be sent to Bangladesh," H T Imam, Political Adviser to Hasina, told PTI when asked to comment on the issue in the wake of media reports.
Though Imam did not elaborate on the two premier's communication, he emphasised, "We have been repeatedly assured by India that no such thing (deportation) will happen to create any sort of political instability in Bangladesh, particularly when we (Bangladesh) are approaching our national elections by the end of the year."
In September, BJP General Secretary Ram Madhav had said people excluded from the final list of Assam-specific National Register of Citizens would be de-franchised and deported to their country.
Addressing a seminar on 'NRC: Defending the Borders, Securing the Culture', Madhav had said the NRC is being updated as part of the 'Assam Accord' signed in 1985 under which the government had made a commitment to "detect, delete and deport" all illegal immigrants from the state.
"The NRC will ensure the detection of all illegal immigrants. The next step will be delete - means deletion of names of illegal immigrants from voters list and deprive them of all government benefits. The next stage will be deportation," he had said.
Imam also said Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Harsh Vardhan Sringla, also "repeatedly told us not to worry about the exercise and indeed, it should not be our concern either". It is India's internal affair, he added.
Imam, however, said the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent had resulted in a huge exodus of people on both sides. "But once the exchange of population took place during the partition, people who settled on either of the sides became citizens of the country where they migrated," he said.
"You can see Bengalis who migrated to India from here are in leading positions in many fronts of India's economic, cultural, professional and political arenas...But should they be treated as intruders and sent back to Bangladesh?" he asked.