Why do some people hate India
Seven million stateless people feared in India
Guwahati / Vienna - Many Muslims in Assam are concerned. The people, whose ancestors came from Bangladesh long ago, live all their lives in the northeasternmost state of India. But you have to prove by Monday that you are actually Indian.
Because Assam is currently checking the status of its residents: In the mega-project National Registry Census, all 32 million residents have to prove by document that they live legally in Assam - that is, that they or their families came to Assam before 1971.
Officially, it is said that they want to curb illegal migration. People who do not make it onto the list are classified as "foreigners", are put in detention centers or are supposed to be deported. The final draft of the list will be published on Monday.
Critics believe that this is only intended to discriminate against the Muslim population in the Hindu-dominated country. Because many Muslims have no documents that would prove their citizenship. Up to 2.9 million Muslim women who have no documents other than outdated marriage certificates are particularly affected. The authorities do not recognize these documents. Critics see the Hindu nationalist government of India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi behind the policy. In 2015, a law was passed that allows Hindu immigrants, Buddhists, and Jains to become citizens. Muslims do not appear in the law.
In the first draft of the list, which was published in January, only 19 of the 32 million inhabitants were on the list. The rest have since had to try to get hold of documents quickly. For the second and last version, up to seven million people are still at risk of being classified as "foreigners" and thus of being stateless at one stroke.
The Indian government tried beforehand to allay the worries by pointing out that even after the list has been published, there are still two months to submit documents and thus get on the list. "Nobody will be put in a detention center after the list is published," Indian Interior Minister Rajnath Singh said last week.
Genocide Watch sees it differently. The NGO classifies the region at warning level 7 of the genocide warning and compares the situation with the Muslim Rohingya minority, who are being forced to flee to Bangladesh from Myanmar. A group of UN special observers also expressed concern in mid-June that procedural errors are frequent. It also remains unclear what happens to people who are classified as foreigners.
In any case, the region is preparing for unrest. 22,000 additional security guards are stationed in Assam, and border controls have been strengthened in neighboring Nagaland. (Anna Sawerthal, July 29, 2018)
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