The rejected Biharis

  • Nida Sattar

Abstract


This paper will discuss the plight of the Bihari Muslims who were denied citizenship by the Bangladeshi and Pakistani government. The essay begins by highlighting the historical events that led to the prosecution of the Biharis residing in Bangladesh. The paper seeks to provide the different arguments presented by the three main agents in the discussion i.e. the government of Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Biharis. It discusses how the Bangladeshi government labelled thousands of Biharis as enemy collaborators for their alleged role in supporting the Pakistani government during the war of liberation. They were denied citizenship and, fearing for their lives. were forced to seek shelter in refugee camps. Similarly, the Pakistani government did not accept the citizenship appeals of the Biharis despite giving them repeated assurances of repatriation to Pakistan. The essay explores the political and ethnic disturbances that led to this decision by Pakistan. Denied citizenship, the Bihari people have been living in refugee camps till this day; forty-two years after Bangladesh gained independence. The final part of the paper discusses the current struggle for citizenship by the Biharis and attempts to locate the issue of citizenship within the South Asian region. 

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