Stranded Biharis become Bangladesh citizens after 36 years

May 19th, 2008 - 4:59 pm ICT by admin  

Dhaka, May 19 (IANS) The 300,000-plus Biharis stranded in Bangladesh after the partition of Pakistan have finally become Bangladeshi citizens over 36 years after the country’s birth. The Dhaka High Court ruled Sunday that Urdu-speaking non-Bengali Muslims who migrated from different parts of India when the partition of Pakistan took place in 1947, are now Bangladeshi citizens.

The ruling came after prolonged hearing of a petition filed by 11 such people, the Daily Star newspaper reported Monday.

Dubbed as “stranded Pakistanis” or “stranded Biharis”, these people are living in different parts of the country, mostly in 116 camps, in ghetto-like conditions.

The court bench comprising Justices Mohammad Abdur Rashid and Ashfaqul Islam also directed the Election Commission (EC) to include the petitioners’ names in the voters’ lists.

The court order may mark the beginning of the end of the misery of those who found themselves in a hostile environment after the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971.

Some non-Bengalis collaborated with the then Pakistani regime to commit atrocities on the Bengali populace as part of Al Badr, Al Shams and other militant bodies. Most of them managed to flee the new country.

For the stranded non-Bengalis, the situation became worse when they declared themselves “Pakistanis” and wanted to migrate there.

After dodging the issue for several years, Pakistan accepted only about 100,000 people after which it stopped heeding pleas from Bangladesh and international human rights organisations.

The Daily Star quoted from a publication of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit of Dhaka University, saying that the 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 426,000 Biharis left Bangladesh during and after the Liberation War in 1971 while around 400,000 opted to stay on. Following an agreement in 1974, Pakistan took back over 100,000 of them. The number of Biharis repatriated so far stands at 161,000.

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