Bangladesh nationals settled in India before 1971 are Indians and can vote: Meghalaya HC

As per a judgment by the Meghalaya High Court, Bangladesh nationals who have settled in Meghalaya before March 24, 1971 should be treated as Indians and they should be enrolled in the voters list.

The verdict was based on a petition filed by over 40 refugees, living Amjong village near the Assam-Meghalaya border in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district who were originally from Bangladesh, who were refused enrolment in the electoral roll and their citizenship certificates were seized by the district administration citing their citizenship as doubtful.

The court held that there was an understanding between the two nations as to who should be permitted to stay and who should be sent back to Bangladesh. It observed that as the forefathers of the petitioners entered India much before March 24, 1971 there was no question of deporting them now when they have acquired the right of permanent rehabilitation in Amjong village. The court dismissed the contention that they were Bangladesh citizens and directed the state government and the Centre not to disturb them, but to provide them proper rehabilitation. Earlier, the state government had contended that the petitioners and their forefathers were not permanent citizens and were rehabilitated temporarily by the autonomous district council.

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