Rajya Sabha on Wednesday witnessed uproar by members of the Congres on remarks by BJP chief Amit Shah during the discussion over the National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Assam on Tuesday, forcing adjournment of the House till 1200 hours.
During a telephonic interview with news agency ANI from Dhaka, Information and Broadcasting Minister of Bangladesh Hasanul Haq Inu said, "Everyone knows it is a century-old ethnic conflict in the state of Assam".
Asked about the legal status of these 40 lakh people who did not make it to the final draft, Ministry of Home Affairs joint secretary (northeast) Satyendra Garg, who was in Guwahati, said: "Those left out can file claims and objections".
The first draft of the NRC, released on December 31, confirmed the citizenship of 19 million people, leading to jubilation for some and heartbreak among others.
When asked if these people will be eligible to vote in the forthcoming panchayat polls and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Registrar General of India (RGI) Sailesh said the electoral process is dealt by a different authority.
The tea-rich state of Assam has always been the centre of social and communal tensions with locals campaigning against illegal immigrants.
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Rights groups have criticised the government's latest move, saying the deletion of people from citizenship rolls was similar to Myanmar's removal of rights and protections for its Rohingya community in 1982. "The potential exclusion of over 4 million people, many of them Muslims, raises concerns over arbitrary detention and possible statelessness without due process", a statement released by the organisations said. It is feared by many including United Nations human rights experts that a significant number of Bangla-speaking Indian Muslims along with some Hindus will not be included in the NRC.
Last month, thousands of people protested in the streets of Assam's capital, Gauhati, against a proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill which would grant citizenship to Hindus who have fled Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, alleging persecution by Muslim majorities in those countries.
Writing in the Economic and Political Weekly, Sanjoy Hazarika, a human rights activist and Director of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, said it was unclear what will happen to those who could find themselves stateless. "Today these people can not even vote".
"The NRC in Assam is being implemented following the orders of the court (Supreme Court)".
The state government has put stringent security in place while the chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, has told Indian media that those finding themselves stateless overnight should not worry. "No one will be treated as a foreigner if his or her name does not appear in the NRC draft".
Also Bangladesh has not agreed to claims that these people are irregular migrants, making their deportation unlikely. The issue has become a political flashpoint between Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and opposition parties.