State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said he does not see any reason for Bangladesh to be worried about Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC) and that there is no scope for doing politics over the matter.
Talking to reporters after attending a programme organised by the Human Rights Forum of Bangladesh yesterday morning, he said the Assamese government has given a clear explanation of the NRC process. He further said the issue will have no impact on Bangladesh-India bilateral relations.
The names of about four million people in India's Assam state are not included in the final draft list of citizens published by authorities on Monday.
Foreign affairs experts in Dhaka said there was a general feeling in Bangladesh that the NRC process in Assam may trigger an exodus of Bangalees and create another Rohingya-like refugee crisis for Bangladesh.
The Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Vardhan Shringla yesterday said making a list of citizens in Assam is an internal matter of India and it will not affect the country's bilateral relations with Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Indian on Wednesday made it clear that those who have been excluded from the draft NRC in Assam can vote if they qualify under electoral laws even if the NRC is not finalised before the Lok Sabha polls next year.
"Suppose I am not in NRC but I fulfil the criteria under the Representation of People Act -- that is I am a citizen of India, 18 years of age and ordinarily resident of that area -- I can be a voter," Chief Election Commission OP Rawat explained to the media in New Delhi.
Rawat was speaking amid apprehension that those who have been dropped out of the NRC list would not be eligible to vote.
"Election Commission [EC] voter enrollment exercise is independent of NRC though they are working in synchronisation. The final electoral roll to be published on January 4, 2019, will be used for general elections," Rawat said.
Meanwhile, members of a team from Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress were yesterday allegedly stopped, beaten up and arrested at the airport in Assam's Silchar, where they were planning to campaign against NRC.
According to reports from NDTV, Hindustan Times and other media from Guwahati, the eight-member team of legislators and parliamentarians who landed at Silchar airport at around 2:00pm to attend a citizen's convention in the city protested at the arrival lounge for hours before being arrested.
Six MPs Sukhendu Sekhar Ray, Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Ratna De Nag, Nadimul Haque, Arpita Ghosh and Mamata Thakur and Bengal urban development minister Firhad Hakim and MLA Mahua Moitra are part of the delegation. The team claimed they were attacked by locals.
“As soon as we reached the arrival lounge of the Silchar airport, we were confronted by a team comprising the district magistrate and police officers. A police officer hit me on the chest. Cops also manhandled Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar, Mamata Bala Thakur and Mahua Moitra,” said Sukhendu Sekhar Ray.
Television channels played video clips of police personnel jostling with members of the Trinamool delegation.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, alleged that the delegation went to Silchar to “spread tension and create trouble” and that they have no business in Assam. “They are the problem. Who asked the Trinamool MPs to go there? None else has gone there ...,” Dilip Ghosh, president of West Bengal's BJP unit, said.
“This is beginning of the end…They are frustrated and that's why they are showing muscle power,” said West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while commenting on the incident.
Banerjee is a strong critic of the NRC. She and her party leaders have aggressively campaigned against the citizens' list, which was meant to be an exercise in identifying illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
In another development, the Assam unit of Trinamool Congress, led by its president Dwipen Pathak, quit the party en masse yesterday in protest against party supremo and West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee's aggressive stand on the draft NRC, according to a report of the Times of India.