Date: November 19, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today released a report on the religious freedom implications of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the northeastern Indian state of Assam. With 1.9 million names of residents of Assam left off the updated NRC list, the report raises concerns about how the NRC process is being used to target and disenfranchise the Muslim population in Assam.
“Close to two million long-time residents of Assam may soon be deemed stateless. They are being stripped of their citizenship without a fair, transparent, and well-regulated NRC process,” said USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava, who testified about Assam last week. “Worse yet is that Indian political officials have repeatedly conveyed their intent to direct and use the NRC process to isolate and push out Muslims in Assam. And now, across India, political leaders are seeking to expand the NRC and implement different citizenship standards for Muslims altogether.”
“The updated NRC list and subsequent actions of the Indian government are essentially creating a religious test for citizenship to target Assam’s vulnerable Muslim community. We urge the Indian government to protect the rights of all of its religious minorities as enshrined in the Indian constitution,” added Chair Tony Perkins.
In its 2019 Annual Report, USCIRF classified India as a “Tier 2” country for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard for designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act. The India chapter expressed concern that the NRC is “an intentional effort to discriminate and/or has the effect of discriminating against Muslims.”