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Statelessness in India

The Government of #India enacted the Citizenship Amendment Act (#CAA), 2019, allowing sections of individuals based on their religion to seek citizenship in India from neighbouring countries. However, this does not include people following #Islam.

While those who sought citizenship based on this law were considered refugees, the overall existence of refugees in India through the north-eastern part has been ignored. The National Register of Citizens (#NRC) filters out those who irregularly entered #Assam from #Bangladesh. The border of Assam and the liberation of East #Pakistan to present-day Bangladesh led to this. During the liberation movement, the #Hindu community migrated to Assam because they feared religious persecution.

However, with time, the majority population - #Bengali Muslims - also started migrating to Assam for economic reasons. This led to a sea of changes in the demography of Assam since the resident people were now deprived of opportunities due to unabated migration.

Initially, the Immigration and (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950, was supposed to protect the people of Assam, but this led to the #Nellie massacre, killing more than 2000 people. After that, the Accord (Memorandum of Settlement) was signed between the central government and the State Government of Assam in 1985 to declare irregular migrants as foreigners and thereby deport them from India. In addition, the Accord changed the Citizenship Act, 1955, declaring certain people as stateless if they had migrated to India post a cut-off date of midnight of 24 March 1971.

This agitated the anti-foreign movement that has been going on, rendering hundreds of people #stateless unless they can prove their identity as Indian citizens. Hundreds of people who are in the process of verifying their identity are detained. Simultaneously, their fate is being decided by the Foreigners’ Act 1946 and Foreigners’ (Tribunals) Order 1964.

The whole process is mired with confusion and arbitrariness.

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