India has mobilized around 60,000 police and paramilitary troops in a sensitive border state ahead of the publication of a list of citizens it says will be used to detect and deport illegal immigrants - mainly Muslims - from neighboring Bangladesh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) took power in the eastern state of Assam for the first time last year, vowing to act against illegal Muslim residents who take away jobs from local Hindus.
On Sunday the state government will release a draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) after a census carried out for the first time since 1951.
The exercise could lead to communal tensions in Assam, which has the second highest percentage of Muslims of any Indian state.
Bangladesh’s Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said Dhaka had no knowledge of any plans to deport people. “We didn’t receive any information from the Indian government, neither formally nor informally,” he said.
It is estimated that there are more than 2 million Muslims in Assam who trace their roots to Bangladesh.
To be recognized as Indian citizens, they must be able to produce documents proving that they or their family lived in the country before March 24, 1971.
Tens of thousands of people fled to India from Bangladesh during its war of independence from Pakistan in the early 1970s. Most of them settled in Assam, in India’s north-east, and the neighboring state of West Bengal, where there are similar demands to send back illegal Muslim immigrants.