The “National Register of Citizens” in Assam as a Pretext for Denationalizing Muslims?

The Indian state of Assam is updating for the first time in its history the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was created in 1951 to determine who was born in the state and is Indian, and who might be a migrant from neighbouring Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan.

The process is part of a government drive to identify irregular migrants, although it was ultimately taken up in 2013 at the behest of the Supreme Court of India. The basis of inclusion in the register is to prove links to the 1951 census, the electoral roll, or proof of familial links, with the onus being put on the individuals. The deadline is set on 31 July 2019.

All those whose names are not included in the final list will be suspected ‘foreigners’ and will have to appear at ‘Foreigners Tribunals’. Failure to prove nationality before these tribunals will result in deportation, although it remains unclear to where. It has been estimated that over three million individuals who have been treated as Indian citizens until now will be affected, most of them being Muslims.

For more information, read Of Statelessness, Detention Camps and Deportations: India and the “National Register of Citizens” in Assam on Opinion Juris, The greatest threat to Indian democracy today on The Telegraph online, “Worse Than a Death Sentence” on Type Investigations, and India’s Great Disenfranchisement on Slate.