Four million residents of Indian state risk losing citizenship

Howard TerryAug 03, 2018

Human rights observers say the stripping of citizenship to the Assam people will create another stateless community of Muslims to live in existence besides the Rohingya.

Banerjee met Singh regarding concerns that the Assam draft NRC excludes many valid citizens of the country. "No genuine Indian citizens need to worry as there will be ample opportunities given to them to enlist their names in the final NRC", he told a news conference in Assam's biggest city, Guwahati.

During a telephonic interview with news agency ANI from Dhaka, Information and Broadcasting Minister of Bangladesh Hasanul Haq Inu said, "Everyone knows it is a century-old ethnic conflict in the state of Assam".

State NRC chief coordinator Prateek Hajela said names of four categories of persons have been left out from the final draft, as per the instruction of the Supreme Court.

Sonowal said after the publication of first draft of NRC, people cutting across all castes and tribes, religious, linguistic divides residing in the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys, plains and hills of the State showed tremendous unity and harmony.

The draft list incorporated the names of almost 2.89 crore individuals out of the 3.29 crore applicants, leaving out more than 40 lakh applicants from the final draft.

She said, "If Bengalis say Biharis can't stay in Bengal, South Indian people say North Indians can't stay there and North Indians say South Indians can't stay here. But, still we are prepared so that nobody can come to Bangladesh illegally", he added.

According to The Economic Times, the Muslim population of Assam grew by 77 percent in a 20-year period from 1971, while the number of Hindus in the region rose by only 42 percent.

Following an outcry from rights groups over possible harassment of Muslims in Assam, Interior Minister Rajnath Singh said that the NRC exercise was being carried out in an impartial and transparent manner. A lot of them settled in Assam, which has a near-270 km (165-mile) border with Bangladesh. NRC chief Prateek Hajela, whose office has processed 66 million documents and spent almost $180 million in the whole NRC process, declined comment on the religion of people who would be removed from the register.

About 29 million people have been found eligible for inclusion in the citizenship document from around 33 million applicants, he said.

"The NRC in Assam is being implemented following the orders of the court (Supreme Court)". West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee described it as a "conspiracy to throw out Bengalis and Biharis" from Assam.

Ahead of the publication of the NRC draft list, the government had deployed thousands of security personnel to avoid any backlash from immigrants. He has assured me that the government will not harass people. A similar exclusion - it is commonly believed - would benefit the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections of 2019.

Sailesh did not provide a breakup of people who had failed to make to the draft list.

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