The Government in India recently took steps to take away the citizenship of four million people, most of whom are Muslim. Now, immigrants fear deportation and don’t know about their fates.
Officials of India have released a list of draft citizenship this past Monday for Assam, the northeastern state bordering Bangladesh. The list named the National Register of Citizens claims 28.9 million current residents are citizens. However, the list excludes four million other names.
The residents in question had moved to Assam back in 1971 during the war between Bangladesh and Pakistan. Nearly 10 million undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh made their way to India at the time. Soon, these individuals met with intense backlash from the locals.
Representatives of the government said no one would be arrested or face immediate deportation. They will also allegedly have time to appeal the decision. However, many with an uncertain immigration status are concerned about their fate.
A Muslim teacher in Assam, Shafiuddin Ahmed, said he did not make the citizenship list. Several other of his family members, however, were included. Now, the teacher fears the separation between him and his family.
Ahmed wonders what will happen to him and if the government will send him to a detention center. If that does happen, how will his family eat and live? All these questions and more plague his mind.
Government Looks to rid Assam India of Undocumented Immigrants
The government’s latest move is part of a broader backlash against immigrants. Currently, the ruling party, right-wing nationalists headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, vowed to clear the country of what they call illegal foreigners.
Those that live in Assam have made protests against the ethnic minorities living among them. The residents say they take up the limited resources and take the jobs available. This debate isn’t new either. In the 80s a local group of Assamese residents killed nearly 1,800 newcomers.
It also isn’t the first time this government has attempted to expel undocumented immigrants in Assam. An earlier draft of the list that was released last year missed 13 million people. Even with that number dramatically reduced, there are still many questions of immigration, identity, and belonging in India.
Since the release of the list, many spoke against the efforts of the government to push out ethnic minorities. The protesters promised to mobilize again. Ripun Bora, state chief of the opposition Congress party said the government is trying to isolate Muslims. The number of those left off is high and surprising to many. But Bora promised there would be a fight.