Top 5 Facts About the 4 million stripped of citizenship in India

An estimated 4 million people living in a border area of India have been left off a controversial citizenship list designed to stem the illegal flood of immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, the majority of them Muslim.

Fact 1: Most of the citizens are from the north-eastern state of Assam

Hundreds of thousands of people fled to India during Bangladesh’s war of independence from Pakistan in the early 1970s. Most of them settled in Assam, which has a near-165-mile (270km) border with Bangladesh.

The largely agrarian state of 33 million that shares a border with Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Bhutan and that has wrestled with a tide of illegal immigration for decades. Since 2015, Assam has been undergoing a Supreme Court-monitored update of its citizen rolls.

Fact 2: The process of verifying the identity of the citizens began in 2015

The mammoth three-year-long exercise to prove the identities of 33 million people across the hills, valleys and plains of this verdant state began in 2015. Indian authorities have now published the final draft of their National Register of Citizens for Assam.

The list aims to identify every resident who can demonstrate roots in the state before March 1971. two years ago. It has been overseen by the supreme court. There have been longstanding social and communal tensions in the state, with locals campaigning against illegal immigrants. Critics see the citizenship test as a measure – supported by Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government – aimed at driving out minority Muslims.

Fact 3: Assam’s Muslim population grew faster than the national average

Assam’s Muslim population grew faster than the national average — from about 31 to 34 percent between 2001 and 2011, compared with 13.4 to 14.2 percent nationally during that period, according to census figures.

Assam Citizens, India
Assam CitizensAssam Citizens, India

Fact 4: Bangladesh's information minister said it's India's problem

Bangladesh, on its part, has maintained that NRC is India’s internal matter — not a bilateral issue.

On July 31, Sahidul Hasan Khokan – a journalist- spoke to the Bangladesh information minister Hasanul Haq Inu MP regarding the issue. He reported the following;

Inu claims that there are no Bangladeshi migrants in Assam, the state’s illegal immigrants are India’s internal problem and the problem has to be resolved by the Indian government.

He also said that those creating problems in Assam are India’s own citizens.

He also said that Bangladesh is not in favour of people entering any country illegally. Bangladesh is trying to send illegal Rohingyas back to Myanmar.

Inu claimed that India shouldn’t declare the people excluded from the NRC list as Bangladeshi nationals.

Professor Roksana Kibria of Dhaka University’s International Relations Department, said, “Even though Bangladesh has called NRC India’s internal issue the matter could become Dhaka’s own issue for the time being.”

Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu
Bangladesh Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu

Fact 5: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has asked India not to deport them

“Assam has long sought to preserve its ethnic identity, but rendering millions of people stateless is not the answer,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director of New York-based Human Rights Watch.

“Indian authorities need to move swiftly to ensure the rights of Muslims and other vulnerable communities in Assam are protected from statelessness,” she said in a statement.

William Spindler, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the agency was concerned about the registration process and monitoring it closely.

The UNHCR also appealed to the Indian government not to deport those who fail to qualify for citizenship, even after claims and appeals are exhausted.

Bangladesh has not had any communication from New Delhi on the issue, said Jyotirmay Dutta, a senior official of its interior ministry.

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