Ensure NRC will not leave people stateless in Assam, says UN rights chief

NRC, Assam NRC, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations
Michelle Bachelet said the recent NRC verification process in Assam has "caused great uncertainty and anxiety" (UN News)

The United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday (September 9) appealed to India to ensure that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) verification exercise in Assam does not leave the people stateless as it has caused “great uncertainty and anxiety.”

The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise, aimed at identifying illegal immigrants, mostly from Bangladesh, was carried out only in Assam, which has been facing influx of people from the neighbouring country since the early 20th century.

The updated final NRC, which validates bona fide Indian citizens of Assam, was released on August 31, with the authority conducting the exercise shutting out the citizenship claims of over 19 lakh applicants who now face an uncertain future.

In her opening statement at the 42st session of the Human Rights Council here, Bachelet said the recent NRC verification process in Assam has “caused great uncertainty and anxiety, with some 1.9 million people excluded from the final list published on August 31.”

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A total of 3,30,27,661 people in Assam applied to be included in the NRC. Of them, 3,11,21,004 have been included in the document and 19,06,657 excluded, a statement from the NRC State Coordinators office said on August 31.

Bachelet appealed to the Indian government to ensure due process during the appeals process, prevent deportation or detention, and ensure people are protected from statelessness.

India says updating of the NRC is a statutory, transparent, legal process mandated by the Supreme Court of India. It maintains that the exclusion from the NRC has no implication on the rights of an individual resident in Assam.

“For those who are not in the final list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law. It does not make the excluded person “stateless,” the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement last week.

“It also does not make him or her a Foreigner, within the legal meaning of the term. They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they have enjoyed before,” the statement added.

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