It’s time we listened to the plight of Assam’s ‘foreigners’

After being excluded from a controversial citizen register, millions in India’s Assam state are in legal limbo.

People wait in queue to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district, Assam state, India, July 30, 2018 [Reuters]

India’s north-eastern Assam state was thrown into turmoil on July 30, after approximately four million people living there were not included in a draft list of citizens published by authorities.

The Registrar General of India (RGI), which published the draft list called the National Register of Citizens (NRC), said out of the 32.9 million people living in the border state, only 28.9 million managed to submit the necessary documents proving their citizenship.

Some human rights activists deemed the list the “biggest exercise for disenfranchisement in human history” while others said those not included into the list are in legal limbo and may eventually be left stateless.  

Now the fate of millions – most of them among the most vulnerable in India – is uncertain. 

But why did Indian authorities feel the need to compose such a list? Who is being targeted? And most importantly, what’s next?

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