19:15 GMT +319 April 2019
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    An Indian Border Security Force (BSF) soldier stands guard at the border outpost at Lathitilla near the India-Bangladesh border in Karimganj district of Assam, India. (File)

    4 Million Fear Deportation as Indian Border State Issues Draft Citizens' List

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    Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said there is no need for panic as people will be given ample opportunity to produce relevant documents to prove their citizenship. He has further assured the public that no coercive action will be taken against defaulters.

    On Monday India's northeastern state of Assam released the final draft of the highly-contentious National Register of Citizens (NRC) giving a month's time to at least four million persons who have been left off the list to produce the relevant documents to prove their Indian citizenship.

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    "Out of 32.9 million population of the state, which shares a border with Bangladesh and Bhutan, 28.9 million names were included in the final draft of the NRC," Shailesh Kumar, an official from the Registrar General of India said while releasing the list on Monday.

    ​Rajnath Singh, India's Minister of Home Affairs has said there is "no need to panic" as "no coercive action will be taken" and anyone can file claims and objections.

    Further, Rajnath Singh has advised the State Government of Assam that no action should be initiated by the administration or the police based on the draft NRC.  

    "The question of referring any person to a detention center based on NRC exercise also does not arise," Singh added.

    The citizens' list has been prepared by the Registrar General of India, along with the central and the state government, under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court of India. The NRC will feature the names, addresses, and photographs of all Indian citizens, whose families have resided in the state since before March 25, 1971. 

    During and after the 1971 India-Pakistan war which led to the creation of Bangladesh, several thousand Muslims, as well as Hindus from the area (erstwhile East Pakistan; now Bangladesh), crossed over to India to take permanent shelter in Assam. 

    The exercise is basically aimed at weeding out the Bangladeshi immigrants who have illegally settled in that part of India over the last five decades.

    However, leaders from several political parties have accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of bias against certain communities.

    "The number is really shocking. We accept that the list was being prepared under the supervision of the Supreme Court but we are not ruling out the intervention of the state government. We will approach the court later," Aminul Islam, General Secretary, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) told Sputnik.

    However, an official of the Registrar General of India has refuted such claims.

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    "This is a historic day for India and Assam. The exercise is unparalleled in size. It is a legal process done under the direct supervision of the Supreme Court…The exercise was carried out in a transparent, fair, objective manner," Sailesh, stated.

    Meanwhile, fearing communal unrest, the state administration has imposed section 144 of the Indian Criminal Procedure in seven of the state's 33 districts. Under section 144, the assembly of more than four people is prohibited.

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    Tags:
    illegal immigrants, deportation, population, court, Supreme Court of India, Indian Home Ministry, Rajnath Singh, State of Assam, India, Bangladesh, Bhutan
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