Nearly two million people in India's northeastern state of Assam were told Saturday they could soon be declared stateless after the results of a years-long exercise to check illegal immigration from neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh were published.
Officials reportedly checked documents submitted by around 33 million people and 31.1 million made the final list. The people excluded now have 120 days to prove their citizenship at regional quasi-judicial bodies known as foreigners' tribunals and they can subsequently appeal to higher courts if those tribunals still rule that they are illegal immigrants.
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi's administration argues that it launched the exercise to find undocumented immigrants, many critics view the move as part of a larger anti-Muslim movement, in conjunction with the government's decision to revoke the autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state. Modi has been accused of stoking Hindu nationalist fervor since he was elected in 2014.
Assam state officials reportedly said they are unaware of the fate that awaits people who will ultimately be judged foreigners; Bangladesh has not committed to accepting them. Read more at Reuters and The New York Times.