NEW DELHI: Countering perception that the population of Hindus in Bangladesh was declining, the government on Thursday quoted official records of that country to state that it has instead risen by two percent in 2017.
Responding to questions in the Rajya Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also said the government has from time to time raised the issue of the plight of minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and other countries at the bilateral level and made efforts to take them to a logical conclusion.
She urged members to pass the Citizenship Act amendment bill, pending in the Upper House, to help resolve issues pertaining to atrocities and attacks on minorities, including those in Pakistan.
"About the demographic changes in Bangladesh, as per statistics of the Bangladesh Bureau, in 2011 there were 8.4 percent Hindus in the country, which has risen to 10.7 percent in 2017.
"A perception that Hindus are migrating from Bangladesh and that their population is falling has been formed," she told the House.
Swaraj told members that as far as the treatment of minorities in Bangladesh is concerned, it is true that there have been incidents of attacks on minorities but Bangladesh government has taken action, as claimed.
In her written reply, she said there have been reports of violence and harrassment against members of minority communities in neighbouring countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, which include killings, persecution, intimidation, abduction, forced conversions, desecrations and vandalisation of places of worship and attacks on business establishments.
"These incidents are a matter of concern to the Government. Concerns in the matter are regularly conveyed to the respective countries at the bilateral level," she said.
She also said that the government of Bangladesh has made it clear that it considered the attacks against members of the minority communities a serious matter and takes stern action against the perpetrators.
The government of Afghanistan has also assured that it takes all possible steps to protect its citizens, including religious minorities, she said.
Citing the Brahmanbaria incident in Bangladesh, she said 67 people have been arrested there and judicial process is on and the culprits are in jail. Similarly, she said, another incident happened in Rangpur and the person who tried to incite the locals was also in jail and the judicial process was also going on in this case.
"We do not remain silent by just raising it bilaterally, we also ensure to take them to la ogical conclusion," she said.
On the issue of minorities migrating from Pakistan, she said though this issue pertained to the Home Ministry, she will respond taking collective responsibility. She said a number of steps have been taken for their welfare.
"We have not just introduced but also got the Citizenship Act passed in the Lok Sabha and would urge the Rajya House to pass the same, as it is pending in this House.
"All their issues will be resolved if they get citizenship here. We provide them a two-year long-term visa initially and then a five-year long-term visa. Our Citizenship Act says that after seven years, if they stay here, they can be granted citizenship," she said.
"I would urge the members to pass the Citizenship Act amendment bill in this session itself, as the last session could not function. All problems pertaining to such issues will be resolved," she added.
The minister said the government has raised the issue of ill-treatment of minorities in Pakistan.
She said the issue of continued poor condition and mistreatment of minority communities in Pakistan has been highlighted by India at the United Nations Human Rights Council.