Life upended for those left off Indian citizenship list

3 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

GUWAHATI: Nimai Hajong remembers almost nothing of the hills of eastern Bangladesh where he was born more than half a century ago, having fled as a small child to India where he has lived as a refugee ever since, reports AFP.

The 58-year-old has been declared a foreigner—one of four million people effectively stripped of citizenship by the government of the northeastern state of Assam.

Their names have been left off a draft list of citizens published late July that rights groups say threatens to render millions stateless if they cannot prove they are Indian.

The controversial registry includes only those able to show they were in Assam before 1971, when millions fled to the state to escape Bangladesh’s war of independence, and their descendants.

However, many whose families arrived before 1971 say authorities have rejected their papers and left them off the list.

Critics say it is the latest move by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bolster India’s Hindu majority at the expense of minorities. India will hold a national election next year.