IN PICTURES: India’s largest detention camp built for 1.9m ‘stateless’ people in Assam

“We don’t have birth certificates,” said Malati Hajong, one of the laborers working at a site near the village of Goalpara.

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India is building mass detention camps after about two million people were told they could be stripped off of their citizenship.

About 1.9 million people in the north-eastern state of Assam were exempted from India’s NRC (National Register of Citizens) list in August.
The people excluded will have to prove that they are citizens. UN and many other international human rights groups showed concern that due to this, many people could be ‘stateless’.

This citizenship list is an effort to identify the illegal immigrants in Assam. The Indian government said that the migrants could have arrived from Bangladesh, its Muslim-majority neighbor.

This register has totally disturbed the lives of Muslims who lived legally in the state for many decades. Those who are pleading to be put on the register will have to provide documentation, like birth certificates that are dating back decades.

IN PICTURES: Assam’s detention camps

Registration or record-keeping in many rural parts of India isn’t quite up to the mark, including those that are a part of building these detention camps have been caught out by NRC’s stringent requirements.

“We don’t have birth certificates,” said Malati Hajong, one of the laborers working at a site near the village of Goalpara.

The Goalpara camp is one of the 10 planned detention centers. Its size is equal to that of seven football pitches and has the capacity to hold 3,000 people. The officials plan to have a hospital and a school inside the center, along with a high boundary wall and watchtowers for security.

Critics have accused the Indian prime minister of using the NRC as an indirect way to target Assam’s Muslim community.

But, the government says that it is just complying with the order of India’s Supreme Court, who stated that the NRC had been delayed for too long and gave a strict deadline for its completion.

According to government sources, those excluded from the list have a time of 120 days to appeal at the local ‘Foreigners Tribunals’. If they fail to do so, they can take their cases to the High Court of Assam and then the Supreme Court, but it is yet not decided what will be done if someone fails at all levels of appeal.

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