Many of the Assam minority Bengali community have lived in India for decades, crossing the border into the state during the bloody Bangladesh independence struggle in 1971. Many others can trace their history back even further, arriving before the independence of India in 1947.
Modi’s political opponents who forced Parliament in New Delhi to adjourn multiple times amid a heated debate over the issue maintain the registry is discriminatory.
The principal opposition Congress party said it wasn’t enough to allow people left of the list to file appeals. It called on Modi and his ruling Bharatiya Janata Party to ensure that the process is fair and that it doesn’t discriminate against people based on their religion, a concern voiced by many given Assam’s multi-ethnic make-up.
“We don’t want that anyone in our country who is a genuine Indian based on his caste, religion or his ethic roots to be sent out of the country. This should not happen. The onus should not be on an individual, the onus should be on the government as well,” said senior Congress leader, Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“It is not a political issue. It is a question of human rights. It is a humanitarian issue. It is a national issue. We need to look after Indian citizens,” said Derek O’Brien from the Trinamool Congress (TMC) party, which governs the neighboring border state of West Bengal.