World, Front Page

No atrocity on minorities in Bangabandhu’s lifetime

Amit Shah

Published : 10 Dec 2019 09:25 PM | Updated : 04 Sep 2020 11:19 PM

Indian Home Minister Amit Shah has expressed gratitude to Father of the Nation of Bangladesh Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman for protecting the religious minorities in Bangladesh from any sort of atrocities and persecution, reports BSS.

“I want to use the floor of this House (Lok Sabha) today (Tuesday) to record my gratitude to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that not a single instance of atrocity on religious minorities in Bangladesh took place as long as Bangabandhu was alive,” he said. Shah made the comments responding to opposition’s criticism during a nine-hour long fierce debate on the contentious “Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019”, which later got Lok Sabha approval amid protests from the opposition parties and various groups.

In his speech, Shah highly appreciated the present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for ensuring the safety and security of religious minorities in Bangladesh and protecting their rights. Besides, he also listed a number of incidents of atrocities on Hindu community during the BNP rule under Khaleda Zia in October, 2001.

Referring to India-Bangladesh Peace and Friendship Treaty, he said the religious minorities were well-protected under the treaty signed by the then Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in Dhaka in 1972. The spirit of the agreement was maintained by Bangladesh till the assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975, he added.

He said Mahatma Gandhi had visited Noakhali, one of the sites of worst-Partition riots, but it was on his birthday on October 2, 2001 that 100 Hindus, whose age ranged from 8 to 70, were raped in Charbhasan upazilla and in Bhola 200 minority women were gang raped. In October 1990, 300 houses belonging to Hindus were set on fire at Kaivailyadham and 1000 Hindu families had come under attack in Lalmohan upazilla, Shah said, adding many temples were also damaged.

He questioned how the religious minority population has come down from 22 percent in 1947 to 7 percent in 2011. However, he made it clear that India will never accept Rohingya refugees as citizens and agreed with the suggestion that “India doesn’t need refugee policy, has enough laws for protection of refugees.” Later, the Lok Sabha passed the bill, which the opposition parties alleged the draft legislation violated the Constitution by linking faith to citizenship, at 12.04 am today with 311 votes in support and 80 against. The bill will be presented in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow for its approval.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) 2019 seeks to amend the 1955 Citizenship Act by granting citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Jains who entered India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet message hailed the passage of the bill. “This bill is in line with India’s centuries-old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values,” he tweeted minutes after the bill cleared the Lok Sabha.

Taking part in the discussion on the bill, the opposition lawmakers blamed the government for violating the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution and said the Centre was trying to subvert the country’s secular democracy by favouring one religion over another, media reports said.

“The bill violated the basic spirit of the Constitution and infringed on Article 14, which guarantees equality before law,” said Senior Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. The Opposition blamed that the bill discriminated against the Muslims and linked faith to citizenship. Home Minister Amit Shah dismissed the criticism, noting that India has given similar rights to people in the past. The bill had nothing to do with Muslims who were citizens of India, he added.

Taking part in the debate last night, Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi said, “It is an attempt to divide the nation… The proposed law is against our country’s constitution.” He claimed that the Citizenship Amendment Bill was “worse than Hitler’s laws”, and tore a copy of the legislation in the midst of a heated debate in the Lok Sabha.

Media reports from India’s North Eastern States said that different organizations have been protesting against the bill in Agartala and Assam. The protesters demanded withdrawal of the bill for the sake of protecting the secular principal of the country’s constitution.

Besides, the influential North East Students’ Organisation has announced an 11-hour shutdown on Tuesday protesting the bill that what it said the violation of Assam accord of 1985, media reports said. In Assam, prominent student groups have threatened to launch an all-out agitation against the bill, the reports added.