NEW DELHI: India´s home affairs minister on Sunday said his government “will not allow a single illegal immigrant to stay”, as he visited Assam state where a controversial citizenship register sparked uproar from the almost two million people excluded.
The register, feared to be a cover for the ruling Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to expel Muslims, has ensnared many Muslims as well as the Hindus who are a vote bank for the party.
Senior figures in the party had shied away from commenting on the list, published on August 30 and which sparked an outcry from local BJP leaders over Hindus who were omitted.
The home affairs ministry, paraphrasing a speech by Home Affairs Minister Amit Shah in the northeastern state, said he was satisfied with the “timely completion of the process”.
“Shah… also added that the government will not allow a single illegal immigrant to stay back in the country,” the statement said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi´s government had backed the National Register of Citizens (NRC), saying it was aimed at weeding out “foreign infiltrators”.
Shah, Modi´s right-hand man, previously said India must act against “infiltrators who were eating the country like termites”.
During his visit, Shah was expected to be pressed by the local BJP leadership for his government to pass legislation to protect the rights of what it says are genuine citizens excluded from the list.
While there are no clear answers as to how or why individuals have been included or excluded, bureaucratic bungling amid the mountains of paperwork appears to be one factor.