India: 4m people, mainly Muslims to be made stateless

31st Jul 2018
India:  4m people, mainly Muslims to be made stateless

By Ahmad Adil & Abdul Adil

 

NEW DELHI (AA & The Muslim News):  Indian government issued a list excluding more than 4 million people, mainly Muslims, in the northeastern state of Assam – a move that could render them stateless. They will be placed in detention camps prior to deportation.

Authorities published a draft known as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Monday. According to the list, 2.9 crore (29 million) people have been added to the NRC, of 3.9 crore (39 million) applicants, thus excluding 4 million people.

The draft NRC includes only those able to prove they were in Assam before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh’s war of independence into the state

More than 30 million people had applied to be included on the list, of whom just over 4 million were excluded from the draft published on Monday, said Shailesh, the registrar general of India, who uses one name.

“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.

He said those wishing to appeal could do so under “well-laid-down procedures” starting 30 August. The definitive NRC is due to be finalised in December.

Trinamool Congress of Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who accused the ruling BJP of trying to identify and isolate people who don’t vote for the party. “They are turning Indian people into refugees in their own country,” Ms Banerjee said at a press conference.

“It is a game plan to evict humanity and human beings forcibly and an attempt to isolate them in order to do vote politics. We do not believe in divide and rule policy,” she said in Kolkata.

This move is seen as targeting Assam’s Muslim population on the pretext of weeding out Bangladeshi migrants.

“They are trying to isolate Muslims, the number that has come out is high and it is surprising,” said Ripun Bora, the state chief of the opposition Congress party. “We are going to fight it out.”

“Amnesty International India is concerned that the NRC process in Assam may render a significant number of people stateless,” said the group country’s program manager Arijit Sen.

“It is possible that the process will arbitrarily deprive people, who have lived in India for decades, of their nationality,” he said in a statement. “Care should be taken to ensure that families are not torn apart, and appropriate legal aid should be provided to those who are at risk of losing their nationality.”

The fate of those who may lose their nationality, as a consequence of this process, is unclear, said Sen.

“India does not even have an agreement with other countries, particularly Bangladesh, on deportation. It is crucial that the government make public their plan for dealing with those at risk of being rendered stateless and ensure that their rights are not violated,” he said.

Those excluded from the list fear they would be stripped off their citizenship. The process of filing objections would begin Aug. 30 and continue until Sept. 30, said officials.

“This is only a draft and not the final NRC,” said Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

[Map of India By US Embassy India/Public Domain]

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