India's new citizens' draft list sparks controversy

Rights group fear 4 million people in India’s northeastern Assam province may lose Indian citizenship

India's new citizens' draft list sparks controversy

World Bulletin / News Desk

A retired junior commissioned officer, who served in the Indian army, is among four million people whose names were excluded in the draft list of citizens issued by the Indian government.

The government published a draft known as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Monday.

“This is very unfortunate. I just can’t accept this behavior. I’m deeply hurt,” 50-year-old Azmal Haque, who retired from the Indian Army in 2016, told Anadolu Agency.

The NRC list is unique to Assam. It was first tabulated in 1951, four years after independence from British rule, to distinguish Indian citizens from illegal migrants from bordering Bangladesh, which was then part of Pakistan.

“I never expected to see this day, even after serving the nation for 30 years, I will not be called as an Indian citizen,” Haque said.

“There are around seven such persons who have served the Indian Army or Indian Air Force but their names were not mentioned in the list. We are going to write to the president of India for questioning our citizenship,” says Haque, who is permanent resident of Chaygaon village in Kamrup district of northeastern Assam State.

The list includes only those people or their descendants who entered India till midnight of March 24, 1971, when Bangladesh became an independent state.

However, the Bangladeshi government labeled it an “internal issue” of India and stated that Dhaka has nothing to do with the matter.

"Whatever is happening in Assam is an internal issue," Bangladesh's Minister of Information Hasanul Haq Inu told Indian broadcaster WION on Tuesday.

"Assam is a case of purely ethnic conflict," he said and noted that the Delhi government “has not raised this issue with us."

"Bangladesh government is not interested in starting any communication since there is no robust way to stop illegal immigration," Inu said.

The first draft of the list published on Monday left out four million people. The move has triggered fears that a huge population would be rendered stateless.

The Indian government stated the new law considers those who arrived before the war as legitimate citizens.

“Our forefathers have lived here. We have submitted the documents of pre-independence era (1947). So, there is no doubt about that. I think it’s some human error that has kept me out of the list. But I’m pretty sure to get included in the list,” 38-year-old Pitambar Newar from Duliajan, a town in the eastern part of Assam, told Anadolu Agency.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Ağustos 2018, 10:21