Visiting Indian External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has termed the National Register of Citizen (NRC) for Assam ‘India’s internal matter’ and refrained from commenting on the issue.
The Indian foreign minister made the remarks while addressing the media on Tuesday at the state guest house Jamuna in the capital after having a meeting with his Bangladeshi counterpart AK Abdul Momen. He was replying to a question about the fate of the 40 lakh citizens of Assam who have been excluded from the draft NRC.
Jaishankar is in Dhaka on a two-day visit. This is his maiden tour of Bangladesh as Indian foreign minister.
The NRC for Assam will be published on August 31 in keeping with a Supreme Court directive, reports the Times of India. However, the Centre can consider corrective measures, including legislation, to set right wrongful inclusions and exclusions, it said.
Earlier, the Indian Supreme Court rejected a plea made by the Centre and the Assam government seeking re-verification of 20 percent of draft NRC data in districts bordering Bangladesh, and 10 percent in remaining districts.
The plea claimed that the exclusion of Indian citizens and the inclusion of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants in the draft had come to notice.
In July last year, over 40 lakh people were delisted from Indian citizenship on the claim that they were illegal migrants mostly from Bangladesh.
People who entered India after March 24, 1971 are considered illegal migrants and have been excluded from the draft NRC.
The draft NRC has raised serious concern in Bangladesh because the country may have to face an influx of refugees from India, following the publication of the NRC.
If this happens, Bangladesh will fall further into a predicament because the country is already overburdened with some 1.1 million Rohingya refugees who have fled persecution in Myanmar.
Being asked about India’s stance on the lingering Rohingya crisis, Jaishankar said India wants a speedy and safe return of the Rohingya refugees to Myanmar.
“We agreed that safe, speedy and sustainable return of the displaced persons from Myanmar has to be made in the national interest of Bangladesh, Myanmar and India,” he said.
Jaishankar also made it known that bilateral issues including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming visit to India, connectivity, energy sharing, trade, sharing of water resources of the 54 common rivers, and regional security were discussed in the meeting.
He noted that though there has been no development with regard to the Teesta water sharing agreement, India is still committed to keeping its promise on this issue.
“We have made a promise and we all are aware of it,” he said.
It is worth mentioning that in 2011, the then Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Bangladesh and agreed to sign the Teesta water sharing agreement.
But the agreement could not be signed as West Bengal’s Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee opposed it.
Regarding the other 53 common rivers, the Indian external affairs minister said that they were looking forward to making progress to find a mutually acceptable formula to share the water resources of interlinked rivers.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen termed the meeting ‘fruitful.’