Published: Thu, August 02, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Why 4 million people in this Indian state risk losing citizenship

Why 4 million people in this Indian state risk losing citizenship

Indian authorities have left the names of almost four million people off a controversial registry list in the northeast border state of Assam, effectively casting a shadow over their citizenship.

Sharma said since yesterday the opposition has been demanding a structured debate on the developments after the release of the draft National Register of Citizens.

Proponents of the registry say it will help root out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, but the move has prompted fears of possible deportation among Assam's hundreds of thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims.

Prateek Hajela, State Coordinator, National Register of Citizens, on Tuesday informed the Supreme Court of India that all those whose names did not appear in the complete draft will know the reasons from August 7, 2018.

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The BJP said the NRC was monitored by the country's top court and there was no question of discriminating on the basis of religion. What has been said by them, we reject it in entirety?

In an equally aggressive response Banerjee said, "The NRC is being done with a political motive". He said the Congress did not have the courage to oust the infiltrators, but the BJP's priority is to safeguard India's borders.

The tea-rich state of 33 million people has been racked by waves of violence for decades as residents, including indigenous tribes, have clashed with both Hindu and Muslim settlers, whom they accuse of plundering resources and taking away jobs. "How many of them are Bangladeshi intruders", he asked.

In Assam, many applicants queued for the second day at government booths to check their citizenship status, with some relieved at finding their names on the list while others who did not make it hung around, dejected.

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To be recognized as citizens, all residents of Assam had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in India before March 24, 1971.

Yet India has no repatriation treaty with Bangladesh, said Nanigopal Mahanta, head of the political science department at Gauhati University in Assam, noting the message from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party was clear.

Reacting to the allegations, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he will go through the record and appealed to the members to allow the House to function.

"It was important for the opposition to register its concern with regard to disenfranchising our own citizens who have been from other states or from Assam as indigenous people should be rendered refugees in our country". 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. "Saying they will be a given a chance to prove their citizenship is easy but doing so isn't so easy for them", said social activist Prashant Bora from Guwahati, the capital of Assam. It is happening under the supervision of the Supreme Court.

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"We are genuine Indian citizens, and maybe there were some technical problems", he said.

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