India could strip 4 million of citizenship in northeast region

Four million excluded from Indian state's draft list of citizens

What's next for the 4 million stripped of citizenship in India?

Some 4 million people in India's northeastern state of Assam have been left off a draft national register of citizens after the government says they failed to show valid documents.

Even during the recent home minister-level talks between Bangladesh and India on July 15 in Dhaka, the Indian side did not raise the issue ahead of the publication of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam on July 30.

The tea-rich state of Assam has always been the centre of social and communal tensions with locals campaigning against illegal immigrants, a fight that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist-led government has championed. These are persons marked Doubtful voters by the Election Commission of India and their descendants, and persons whose references are pending at the Foreigners Tribunal and their descendants. The Opposition leaders also created a ruckus in the Parliament, leading to the adjournment of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

"The NRC should not become a political tool to render stateless people who have been living in India for decades and have established strong links with the country", said Aakar Patel, Executive Director of Amnesty International India.

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"The process has been completely transparent, fair, objective and meticulously carried out", Registrar General of India, Sailesh, who goes by one name, said in a televised press conference in Guwahati.

The government said those missing from the list would have a chance to resubmit documents between August 30 and September 28, and had the option to appeal at the foreigners' tribunal. The government has set December 31 as the last date to complete the final list.

"We are going to provide assistance to anyone whose names are not included in the document and whoever wishes to file a claim and objection in this regard", Shailesh added.

Millions were left off a list in northeast India yesterday in a move that has effectively stripped them of their citizenships.

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Hundreds of thousands of people fled to neighbouring India after Bangladesh declared itself an independent country from Pakistan on 25 March 1971, sparking a bitter war. "There are states also such as Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and others where like Assam illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are staying", Agarwal said. "It is only against illegal immigrants and it was at the heart of the Assam Accord signed on August 14, 1985 by late former PM Rajiv Gandhi". "We must behave responsibly and in a dignified manner", Naidu said while urging members to get back to their seats. A lot of them settled in Assam, which has a near-165-mile (270km) border with Bangladesh.

Many residents of Assam have long protested against the presence of "foreigners", which include both Hindus and Muslims. The exercise to update the NRC was stopped for some time for various reasons and, later, revived in 2015 under the directive of the Supreme Court.

Sonowal said after the publication of first draft of NRC, people cutting across all castes and tribes, religious, linguistic divides residing in the Barak and Brahmaputra valleys, plains and hills of the State showed tremendous unity and harmony.

"States have been asked to identify, isolate and work on deportation while coordinating with MEA", said Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

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On Monday, the NRC released the second and final draft which had 2.89 crore names in total.

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