People check their names on the final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens at a NRC Seva Kendra in Nagaon Credit: EastMojo

Guwahati: Expressing grave concern over the deadline to finalise the process of National Register of Citizens (NRC), experts from the United Nations (UN) issued a statement in Geneva on Thursday. As per the experts, the process could see the world’s total stateless population explode overnight by more than four million.

“We are also seriously concerned about the lack of clarity regarding what will happen to those left out of the finalised NRC,” the experts said, adding: “There is a risk that persons not part of the NRC could become stateless, be at risk of deportation, or be subject to large-scale migration detention.”

The latest statement came after the Registrar General of India issued a notification on Wednesday, which extended the date for completing the NRC update process by six months to June 30 next year.

The independent experts at the UN questioned the process of exclusion people from the NRC. Fernand de Varennes, the special rapporteur on minority issues, said, “While there is not yet a precise breakdown regarding those excluded from the list, it appears that most are from ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, and in particular Muslims and Hindus of Bengali descent.”

The UN experts also welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision which extended the submission of ‘claims and objections’ forms to December 31. However, they argued the NRC update process was unclear about the exclusion process and said: “The underlying issues with the process, including a lack of clarity regarding the determination of exclusion have not been resolved,” they said.

“It is feared that this entire process is increasing inter-ethnic tensions in a region that has already experienced a tumultuous history of identity-based conflicts, and suffered from strained inter-communal relations, including multiple outbreaks of serious violence and instability, as well as have extremely grave consequences in the recognition and protection of the human rights of millions of minority men, women and children,” Varennes noted.

Apart from Varennes, the other two special UN officials are Ahmed Shaheed, special rapporteur on freedom of religion of belief, Meong-Phil Hong, chair-rapporteur of the working group on arbitrary detention.

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