Democracy Now!

Nearly 2 million people in the northeast state of Assam are at risk of being rendered stateless in India after the government published its National Register of Citizens list Saturday. The highly contested register was first created in 1951 and lists people who are able to prove they came to the state by March 24, 1971 — the day before neighboring Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, declared independence from Pakistan. The Indian government says the list helps identify Bangladeshi migrants who are not legal residents. Critics have denounced the register as an attempt to deport millions of Muslims. Residents suspected of being foreigners can be rounded up and sent to prison camps. Assam residents were in shock after the NRC was published. Assam residents who do not appear on the list have 120 days to appeal their exclusion before so-called foreigner tribunals. We speak with award-winning Indian author and journalist Siddhartha Deb, who was born in northeast India. “It’s become this incredible exercise in disenfranchisement,” he says. “The process has been riven with confusion, with arbitrariness for the past few years.”

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