Some aged non-Bengali Bangladeshis want to go to Pakistan

August 24th, 2008 - 1:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Aug 24 (IANS) As thousands of new generation Urdu-speaking non-Bengalis register to be voters for the December polls, some among the elderly are protesting, insisting that they be sent to Pakistan.Election Commission officials registered 12,280 people as voters, but said a few people living in the Geneva Camp in Mohammadpur locality declined registration. They wanted to be repatriated to Pakistan and protested at the registration process, New Age newspaper said Sunday.

The dissenters are the old generation that migrated from India when it was partitioned in 1947 and were stranded when Bangladesh came into being in 1971.

Called “stranded Pakistanis” or “Biharis”, since a bulk of them migrated from India’s Bihar province, they have been living in 160 camps across the country that are supervised by the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) for the last 37 years. Their official figure now is 160,000.

Successive governments of Bangladesh and Pakistan have discussed their demand for repatriation. But Pakistan accepted only about 100,000 many years ago.

While the older ones are holding on to their hope of being repatriated to Pakistan, the younger ones, born in independent Bangladesh, have reconciled.

A High Court verdict granted citizenship to the Urdu-speaking people, who have been living in Bangladesh for 37 years, and asked the commission to register them in the electoral roll.

In the verdict delivered May 18, the High Court said the Urdu-speaking people, who have been living in Bangladesh since independence and have expressed their allegiance to its sovereignty, were citizens of the country and entitled to be enrolled as voters.

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