Stranded Biharis now Bangladesh citizens
The High Court (HC) yesterday ruled that about three lakh Biharis living in different parts of the country are citizens of Bangladesh.
Responding to a writ petition filed by 11 Urdu-speaking people, an HC bench comprising Justices Mohammad Abdur Rashid and Ashfaqul Islam also directed the Election Commission (EC) to include the petitioners’ names in the voter list.
Barrister Rafiqul Islam Miah, who moved for the petitioners, said the judgment would put an end to the Bangladesh-born Urdu-speaking people being deprived of citizens’ rights.
On November 26 last year, 11 members of the Stranded Pakistanis Youth Rehabilitation Movement including its president Sadakat Khan filed the writ petition seeking HC orders to register as voters the three lakh Urdu-speaking people living in 116 camps across the capital and elsewhere.
In response, the HC issued a rule asking the EC and the government officials to explain within two weeks why the Urdu-speaking people should not be registered as voters.
Yesterday’s ruling came after three days’ of hearing on the HC rule.
Assistant Attorney General (AAG) Manzur Hossain appeared for the government.
According to a publication of Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit of Dhaka University, these Biharis first moved to Pakistan from India in 1947. Then 74,000 of them migrated to the former East Pakistan and the migration continued up to 1952.
Around 4.26 lakh Biharis left Bangladesh during and after the Liberation War in 1971 while around 4 lakh opted to stay on. Following an agreement in 1974, Pakistan took back over 1 lakh of them. The number of Biharis repatriated so far stands at 1.61 lakh.
Later, Pakistan stopped accepting applications from those willing to return and terminated the repatriation process.