Posted on November 16, 2019, 2:14 PM IST
A federal US commission on International Religious Freedom has assumed that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam is a malicious tool to "target religious minorities and to render Muslims stateless".
Stating that the concluding NRC list, which validates bona fide Indian citizens of Assam, has excluded 19 lakh citizens, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Friday stated that a number of domestic and international organisations have uttered apprehension that the NRC is a "targeted mechanism to disenfranchise Assam's Bengali Muslim community, implicitly establishing a religious requirement for citizenship and potentially rendering large numbers of Muslims stateless."
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a chronicle containing names of all genuine Indian citizens. The process to update the register in Assam has began following a Supreme Court order in 2013, with the state's nearly 33 million people having to establish that they were Indian nationals aforementioned to March 24, 1971.
The updated final NRC was released on August 31, with over 1.9 million applicants failing to make it to the list.
Prepared by policy analyst Harrison Akins, the USCIRF alleged that following the August 2019 release of the NRC, the BJP government has taken steps that "reflect an anti-Muslim bias."
The BJP has indicated its intent to create a religious test for Indian citizenship that would favour Hindus and selected religious minorities but exclude Muslims, the USCIRF said.
Assam has been a hub of people settling in from Bangladesh, since the early 20th century. Even after Independence, a large number of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, both Hindus and Muslims, have been settling there.
"The process is being monitored by the Supreme Court directly and the government is acting in accordance with the directives issued by the court. The apex court of the land has itself set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far," government has issued a statement in September.
The statement also said that the NRC is a fair process based on methodical consensus.
"It is a non-discriminatory process, which leaves no room for bias and injustice. As can be seen from the application form for data entry in NRC, there was no column in the application asking for religion of the applicant," the statement said, adding that anyone excluded from the list has a right to file an appeal within 120 days of receiving notification of exclusion, to the designated Tribunal.