We can smile in adversity too – the Biharis in Bangladesh

I took this photo at a Bihari camp in Dhaka. Thousands of ‘Pakistanis’ are stranded in Bangaldesh since 1971 and both the states refuse to acknowlegde their existence. Hence, a few generations have been born in the refugee ghettos who live in sub-human conditions.

I was extremely happy to read this report in the NEWS today that is a little ray of hope:

BD court gives stranded Pakistanis citizenship right

DHAKA: Bangladesh’s High Court ruled on Sunday that some 200,000 Urdu-speaking refugees have the right to be Bangladeshi citizens, a lawyer and a news report said.

Rafiqul Islam Mian, the counsel of a group of refugees, said the court made it clear that they also have the right to cast their votes in upcoming polls, expected to be held in December. “The refugees who were minors in 1971 or born after the independence of Bangladesh are citizens of Bangladesh,” the court said in its ruling.

The ruling does not cover refugees who were adults at independence. The United News of Bangladesh agency reported that a two-member panel of Justice MA Rashid and Justice M Ashfaqul Islam made the decision that also asked the Election Commission to take necessary steps to meet provisions of the ruling.

Some 300,000 refugees now languish in 70 crammed camps across Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 150 million people. Most Bangladeshis speak Bengali, while Urdu is mostly spoken in Pakistan. The lawyer said the rest of the refugees who still dream of Pakistan may take a chance of being Bangladeshi citizens with the ruling in hand.

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