More than 4 million excluded from Indian citizenship in controversial registry

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

The publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Monday comes amid popular anger over illegal migration into Assam, which shares a porous border with Bangladesh. "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".

The Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP government in Assam released the second draft of the NRC Monday - more than six months after the first draft was released - featuring 2.89 crore names and leaving out at least 40 lakh people.

"On completion of verification of all applicants, the complete draft is being published", the government said in a statement. Meanwhile, security has been beefed up across the state to maintain law and order, with district deputy commissioners and superintendents of police being directed to maintain a strict vigil, a senior police official said.

The draft raises concern as about four million people, mostly Muslims, have been excluded from the list of citizens.

There are cases of names of members within the same family missing from the list. "I don't want to name anybody, House should function smoothly".

Critics see the citizenship test as a measure supported by Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) aimed at driving out minority Muslims. The Intelligence Bureau which had earlier said that there could be an influx of people whose names do not feature in the NRC, could also move to other parts of the state. "We are going to fight it out". The state's BJP spokesman was not immediately available for comment, but India's home minister, Rajnath Singh, called the registration process impartial.

He also accused the opposition parties of trying to portray the BJP as a party trying to divide the country.

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Scores of people were chased down and killed by machete-armed mobs intent on hounding out Muslim immigrants in 1983.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday said the publication of the complete draft NRC of Assam can not be the basis of any coercive action against anyone since it is merely a draft. Legal assistance must be extended to those not included on the list and no person must be harassed, he said. "I want to assure all that there is no need for any apprehension or fear".

India's registrar general Shailesh, who only goes by one name, said appeals can be lodged by the end of September along with supporting documentation.

Ram Gopal Yadav of the Samajwadi Party said among those affected were Hindus and Muslims alike, and even those from the States such as Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

The first draft, released on December 31, confirmed 19 million people were citizens.

Lily Das, 51, a Bengali Hindu housewife here at Udalbakra, was anxious as her parents in Raiganj of north Bengal, who died a few years ago, did not have any documents to prove her citizenship. "We will apply once again and submit whatever documents are required to prove our citizenship".

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