A controversial list of citizenship in northeastern India that has left nearly two million people facing statelessness has been criticized by their political supporters, as those excluded from it face an uncertain future.
Read: Two million, mostly Muslims, face statelessness while India publishes a controversial list of citizenship
The main UN refugee official on Sunday urged India to ensure that no one is stateless.
Filippo Grandi, the UN high commissioner for refugees, expressed concern in a statement issued from Geneva. He said that "any process that can leave a large number of people without nationality would be a huge blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness."
He urged India to ensure that no one ends up stateless, "even guaranteeing adequate access to information, legal assistance and legal remedies in accordance with the highest standards of due process."
The Bharatiya Janata Party, a Hindu nationalist of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who heads the state of Assam where the National Registry of Citizens (NRC) was collated, pressed for the list saying it was necessary to detect "foreign infiltrators."
Critics said the NRC process reflected the BJP's goal of serving Hindus, and a large part of the excluded are expected to be Muslims.
But the strategy seems to have failed with local BJP leaders who claim that many Bengali-speaking Hindus, a key voting bank for the party, were left off the list.
"We don't trust this NRC. We are very unhappy," said Ranjeet Kumar Dass, president of the BJP party in Assam. Press Trust of India late saturday
"Many people with counterfeit certificates were included," Dass said, while 200,000 "genuine Indians" were excluded.
Those that remain have 120 days to appeal in special Foreign Courts.
"If we see that the TFs are making adverse judgments about the appeals of genuine Indian citizens […] we will present legislation and act to protect them, "added Dass.
A leader of the main opponent, Congress Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said his party would support those who were excluded by mistake, including providing legal assistance.
Assam has long seen large influxes from other places, even under British colonial rule and around the 1971 war, when millions fled to India.
According to the NRC, only those who could prove that they or their ancestors were in India before 1971 could be included in the list.
The villagers of Assam said AFP about family members who were excluded even though they had documents similar to their relatives.
"The names of our children are on the list but my wife's name is missing. She presented all the documents and records […] Why? "Asked resident Jaynal Abudin.
The excluded, many of whom are poor and illiterate, have to navigate a long and expensive legal process that could include taking their cases to court if they are rejected by a foreign court.
The NRC, which arises from the revocation of the autonomy of New Kashmir in New Delhi, has reinforced fears among the 170 million Muslim minorities in India that the central government is signaling them.
The BJP said earlier that it wants the NRC to be repeated across the country.
The BJP chief of Delhi, Manoj Tiwari, asked on Saturday that the list be applied in the capital, saying it was necessary to identify illegal immigrants.