Alwaght- Nearly two million people have been left off a list of citizens in India's northeastern Assam state, raising fears they could be rendered stateless.
The list, known as the National Register of Citizens (NRC), was published on Saturday after a years-long exercise aimed at identifying legal residents in the impoverished border state.
A total of 31.1 million people were included in the final list, leaving out 1.9 million people, according to a statement from the Assam government.
"The entire process of NRC update has been meticulously carried out in an objective and transparent manner. Adequate opportunity of being heard has been given to all persons at every stage of the process. The entire process is conducted as per statutory provisions and due procedure followed at every stage," it said.
The government said it carried out the mammoth exercise to detect and deport undocumented immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh, but critics viewed the exercise as an attempt to deport millions of Muslims, who make up a third of the state's population.
Resentment against immigrants has simmered for years in Assam, with residents accusing outsiders of taking their jobs and land.
Millions of Bangladeshi refugees, both Muslim and Hindu, arrived in India following the country's 1971 war for independence. The mass influx of refugees into Assam has sparked violent anti-immigrant campaigns in the past.
The NRC is unique to Assam and was first prepared in 1951. Work on the latest list began in 2015 and was overseen by India's Supreme Court. Only those who can demonstrate that they or their forebears were in India before 1971 could be included in the list.