Around 40 lakh people in Assam have been left out of a draft list of citizens released today, and are liable to face deportation if they are unable to prove their citizenship.
The state’s National Register of Citizens or NRC has been updated for the first time since 1951 to account for illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh.
Releasing the updated list, officials underscored that no one would be deported or arrested as this is only a draft.
The recount is seen by critics as a move to target Assam’s Muslim population on the pretext of weeding out Bangladeshi migrants. Thousands of central forces are in the state to prevent any unrest over the new list.
“Some people are unnecessarily trying to create an atmosphere of fear… This is a draft and not the final list,” Home Minister Rajnath Singh had recently stated.
According to the United Nations refugee agency, an estimated 10 million people worldwide are stateless, including three million officially, a status that deprives them of an identity, rights, and often jobs.
If the numbers from the National Register of Citizens (NRC) hold, this scenario could change. Assam’s stateless population then could constitute almost one third of the whole world’s stateless population.