Almost two million people have been excluded from Assam state’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) published over the weekend cementing fears that Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi’s nationalist party is ramping up its radical nationalist agenda.
The NRC included 31.1 million people authorities said were on the electoral role up to March 1971 or other government approved documents. The 1.9 million not included will now have 120 days to prove their citizenship at Foreign Tribunal courts, a process rights groups say will be extremely challenging.
Authorities have said the measure is necessary to deport undocumented migrants from Bangladesh, which borders Assam, but activists say it is a targeted policy aimed at deporting Muslims who make up a third of Assam state’s population.
Rights groups fear that those not on the list will be sent to jail or deported. The Indian government has already announced plans to build 10 detention centres in the northeastern state, a laboratory for similar projects across the country.
Last year an earlier draft of the register effectively stripped four million people in Assam of their citizenship.
A landslide victory in a general election earlier this year embomidldened Modi who came to power on a mandate to expel illegal foreigners and his home minister Amit Shah, who has previously called migrants, termites.
Less than a month ago the government revoked the special status of the Muslim-majority state of Kashmir in an unprecedented move to strip the region of its autonomy.
Security forces detained political leaders and activists and beat and tortured villagers. Government opponents warned the government planned to dilute the population there with Hindu immigrants.