Almost two million people in Assam were left facing the possibility of statelessness on Saturday after the Indian state’s government published a contentious citizenship list.
A total of 31.1 million people were included in the National Register of Citizens (NRC), leaving out 1.9 million people, according to a statement from the Assam government. Last year, India had effectively stripped four million people in Assam of citizenship, sparking fears of mass deportations of Muslims from the northeastern state.
The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC), published last year, included only those able to prove they were in Assam before 1971 when millions fled Bangladesh’s war of independence into the state. Critics say it is the latest move by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to advance the rights of India’s Hindu majority at the expense of its many minorities.
Modi’s Hindu nationalist government — under whom extremist violence against Muslims has increased — has said the list must be revised to root out illegal migrants. Hundreds of thousands fled to India from Bangladesh during its 1971 war of independence from Pakistan. Most settled in Assam, which shares a long border with Bangladesh.
Rights groups had criticised the government’s move, saying the deletion of people from citizenship rolls was similar to Myanmar’s removal of rights and protections for its Rohingya community in 1982.
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