The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) said that the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) list is creating a religious test for citizenship to target Assam’s vulnerable Muslims community.
“The updated NRC list and subsequent actions of the Indian government are essentially creating a religious test for citizenship to target Assam’s vulnerable Muslim community. We urge the Indian government to protect the rights of all of its religious minorities as enshrined in the Indian constitution,” said Tony Perkins, chair of the commission.
Perkins further said that the Bharatiya Janata Party, following the release of the final NRC list, has taken steps that “reflect an anti-Muslim bias – core to its staunch support of the NRC update in Assam”. “The BJP has indicated its intent to create a “religious test” for Indian citizenship that would favour Hindus and selected religious minorities but exclude Muslims,” the chair added.
Meanwhile, Anurima Bhargava, USCIRF Commissioner, said close to two million long-time residents of Assam might soon be deemed stateless. “They are being stripped of their citizenship without a fair, transparent, and well-regulated NRC process,” she added.
Bhargava further said that the whole NRC process is to isolate and push out Muslims in Assam. “Worse yet is that Indian political officials have repeatedly conveyed their intent to direct and use the NRC process to isolate and push out Muslims in Assam. And now, across India, political leaders are seeking to expand the NRC and implement different citizenship standards for Muslims altogether,” she added.
It may be mentioned that the final NRC list was released on August 31st, 2019 including 3,11,21,004 people and excluding 19,06,657 people including those who did not submit claims. The NRC updation work was started in 2013 after the Supreme Court of India had promulgated an order.
Photo credit: @nrcassam