The National Register of Citizens is currently being updated in the Indian state of Assam. The final report will publish the names of those deemed ‘Indian Citizens’ in the region and will be released on July 30th 2018. The process will be monitored by the Supreme Court and is being implemented by appointed NRC State Co-ordinator, Prateek Hajea.
Concerns have been raised by U.N Rapporteurs, Congress and civil society organisations as failures in due process, as well as the discriminatory implementation of the update, suggest it is being used as a tool to impose suffering and harassment on the Muslim minority of the population. Many Muslims and people of Bengali descent experience hostility and prejudice in the Assam state, and it has been suggested that the Bharatiya Janata Party are using the update as an opportunity to appeal to anti-immigration sentiment ahead of parliamentary polls (especially towards those from Bangladesh). Indeed, in coming to power multiple public officials promised to ‘throw out the Bangladeshis’.
Orders implementing the update enable Border Police to inquire into so-called ‘declared foreigners’ and refer them to ‘Foreigner Tribunals’, where they will be expected to provide up to 16 documents to prove their status and be considered citizens of India. While tribunals are underway, individuals will be wiped from the NRC update, potentially excluding millions of genuine citizens and rendering them effectively stateless. Any ‘declared foreigners’ who cannot prove their citizenship risk ending up in detention centres mirroring prison cells, without the basic rights afforded to prisoners under Indian law.
Muslim minorities are disproportionately targeted and impacted by the update as they are most likely to be asked to prove their citizenship while lacking the means to do so. In 2018, 13,434 people have been branded as ‘declared foreigners’ already. WILPF UK condemns any xenophobic, racist and discriminatory process being implemented in the interests of party politics
We echo the recommendations of the U.N Special Rapporteurs earlier this year, and demand the update be in line with international human rights law; that safeguards be taken against discrimination; that race, religion and ethnicity be excluded from the register; and that information on what happens to those excluded is given.
Sign the petition calling for UN Bodies and India’s Trading Partners to speak out against the update here: https://secure.avaaz.org/campaign/en/stop_deleting_muslims_loc/