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Controversy escalates over the list of citizenship in India

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Criticism has mounted in India for a controversial list of up to two million people, most of whom are believed to be stateless Muslims.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which runs Assam, where the National Register of Citizens were drafted, defended the list as deemed necessary to detect “foreign infiltrators.”

But opponents have pointed out that the record reflects Moody’s goal of serving the Hindus as he expects the majority of those excluded to be Muslims.

But the results of the strategy appear to be counterproductive, with local leaders in the ruling party suggesting that the Census List excluded many Hindus from Bengali-speaking people, who are a key voter force for the party.

“We do not trust this national register of citizens. We feel great resentment,” BJP chairman Assam Ranjit Kumar Das said late on Saturday.

He added that “included many people carrying false documents” while excluding 200 thousand “native Indian.”

Those who are excluded are entitled to appeal the decision within 120 days in special foreign courts.

Das said local party leaders would act to protect “indigenous Indian citizens” if the courts rejected the appeals.

The list also excluded some 100,000 Bengali-speaking Gorkas, Prime Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Sunday, describing the National Register of Citizens as a “farce.”

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Sunday called on the Indian government to refrain from arresting or deporting anyone whose nationality has not been verified by the census.

“Any operation that could leave a large number of people stateless constitutes a huge blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness,” he said in a statement.

Assam experienced a large influx of immigrants from other regions, including during British colonialism and during the War of Independence in Bangladesh when millions fled to India.

Only those who have been able to prove that their presence and that of their families in India date back to before 1971 are included in the National Register of Citizens.

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