Millions will be stateless citizens after final NRC, warn UN experts

UN experts on Wednesday warned that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam could render millions of citizens stateless and create instability in India. A panel of three experts said the exercise has increased hate speech against minorities in social media and built a climate of racial hatred.

“We are seriously concerned over the current implementation of the NRC update in Assam and its potentially far-reaching consequences for millions of people, in particular persons belonging to minorities who risk statelessness, deportation or prolonged detention,” said the experts, who argued that the burden of determining nationality lies with the state and not on the citizens.

The report authored by a team led by Ahmed Shaheed, Special Rapporteur, freedom of religion, took note that more than 4 million people of Hindu and Muslim descent in Assam were excluded from the amended draft NRC published in June 2018 and despite many objections the final NRC list is set for 31 July 2019.

The experts said the final date of publishing the NRC is “regrettable” as it is going ahead with the task despite “inconsistencies and errors” in the process.

“It is reported that those excluded from that list will be referred to the Foreigners’ Tribunals in Assam, where, according to Section 9 of the 1946 Foreigners Act, they will have to prove that they are not “irregular foreigners,” they said, pointing out that the process is open to bias and arbitrariness.

The experts said they did not receive any response from the Central Government despite queries and repeated calls. They called on the Government of India and authorities in Assam and other States to avoid actions that could create statelessness, denial of nationality and mass expulsion and arbitrary detention.

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