Published: Mon, July 30, 2018
World News | By Laverne Osborne

India strips four millions of citizenship in Assam

India strips four millions of citizenship in Assam

In the full draft list published today 2.89 crore names have appeared.

Under the BJP government, which came to power in 2016, some 15,000 people were declared foreigners a year ago alone - which means more than 1,000 per month.

More than 4 million people were excluded from a draft list of citizens released on Monday by a census official for India's northeastern border state of Assam, in a long-running campaign against immigrants, sparking uncertainty about their future. In 1983, more than 2,000 suspected Muslim migrants were massacred by a mob in the village of Nellie. Those who came between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971 and registered themselves with the Foreigners Registration Regional officer have also been considered Indian citizens.

Assam is the first Indian state where the NRC is being updated after 1951, with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date, to include names of "genuine Indian citizens". We are anxious because people are being made refugees in their own country. Many Muslim residents angrily reject the charge of being illegal, saying that not only they, but their grandparents, were born in Assam and they know of no other place.

Hundreds of thousands of people fled to India from Bangladesh during Bangladesh's war of independence from Pakistan in the early 1970s - and a lot of them settled in Assam.

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The arrival of millions of refugees to Assam in 1971 - when Bangladesh seceded from Pakistan after a bloody civil war - brought the issue of these so-called foreigners into national focus. A total of 3.29 crore people had filed an application for the NRC.

Asking the opposition to list out what role the government has played in the NRC, Singh said, "It is a sensitive issue and should not be politicised unnecessarily".

India maintains that hundreds of thousands of people have illegally entered the country from neighbouring Bangladesh over decades and settled down in the northeast. A lot of them settled in Assam, which has a near-270 km (165-mile) border with Bangladesh. People will be given time to file for corrections, Indian officials said.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said he had requested Home Minister Rajnath Singh to respond to queries on the National Register of Citizens, but the legislators continued to disrupt proceedings. But the NRC told India's top court this month that it would drop 150,000 people from that list - a third of them married women - mainly because they had provided false information or inadmissible documents.

Allegations of illegal movement of people from India's porous border with Bangladesh have triggered sectarian tensions between the state's indigenous population and Bengali-speaking Muslims. People who lack knowledge will be provided assistance. "Even the United Nations resolution says global refugees need to be protected", she said.

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