News ID: 219065
Published: 0137 GMT July 30, 2018

India leaves 4 million off Assam citizens' list

India leaves 4 million off Assam citizens' list

More than four 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.

Resource-rich Assam, which borders Muslim-majority Bangladesh, is in the grip of social and communal tension as residents campaign against illegal immigrants, a fight backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government, Reuters reported.

Of more than 32 million people who submitted documents to prove their citizenship, the names of 4,007,707 were missing, Sailesh, India’s registrar general and census commissioner, told a televised news briefing in Assam’s main city of Guwahati.

“On completion of verification of all applicants, the complete draft is being published,” the government said in a statement.

Officials said security had been tightened across the state as thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims worry about being sent to detention centers or deported.

Soldiers stood guard at government offices, where thousands of people queued to check their names on the so-called National Register of Citizens (NRC), Reuters witnesses said.

The list was uploaded on a government website, but many in remote regions of Assam, who lack internet connectivity, travelled to government booths set up for the exercise to determine their status.

Four family members did not figure on the list, said Habibur Rahman, in the district of Sonitpur, about 200 km (124 miles) east of Guwahati.

“I had submitted all requisite documents,” he said. “I am surprised why the names of our family members were not there.”

Critics see the citizenship test as a measure supported by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aimed at driving out minority Muslims.

“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 that has espoused the cause of minorities. “We are going to fight it out.”

The BJP denies any bias, saying it opposes a policy of appeasement of any community. The state’s BJP spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but India’s home minister, Rajnath Singh, called the registration process impartial.


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