Berlin, Sep 3: The United Nations (UN) senior refugee official has on Monday urged India to make sure no refugee is left stateless in a process to enlisting nearly two million individuals in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) list, being processed by Assam’s government.
In an official statement issued in Geneva, UN high commissioner for refugees, Filippo Grandi, on Sunday, said, “Any process that could leave large numbers of people without a nationality would be an enormous blow to global efforts to eradicate statelessness.”
Grandi urged New Delhi to ensure no one ends up “stateless”, “including by ensuring adequate access to information, legal aid, and legal recourse in accordance with the highest standards of due process”.
Around 31.1 million individuals were included on the citizenship list which the Assam’s government has revealed on Saturday, excluding some 1.9 million. The list, named as the National Register of Citizens, is special to Assam state – India’s far northeast bordering Bangladesh.
The government has stated it assembled the list to recognize and send back undocumented immigrants who flee Bangladesh to India seeking refuge, but has also elucidated those who are left out of the final list would not be declared as foreigners, according to Dawn.
Indian foreign ministry has shielded a controversial citizenship register in India’s province of Assam state after condemnation from the UN, stating almost two million individuals being excluded from the list would not be recognized as “stateless”.
Ministry of external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar defended the process, saying the NRC “does not make the excluded person ‘stateless’” and any decisions taken would be consistent with Indian law and its democratic traditions”.
“It (the NRC) also does not make him or her a ‘foreigner’, within the legal meaning of the term,” Kumar said in an official statement released late on Sunday.
For those who are not in the final list, (they) will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before until they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law.
Refugees who are left off have at least 120 days to appeal at Foreigners Tribunal, as well as, can appeal via the courts.