New Delhi: Around 40 lakh people in Assam have been left out of an updated draft list of Indian citizens released on Monday. This amounts to almost the same number of people currently living in Puerto Rico, a Caribbean Island.
The numbers are further startling as according to official population figures, 97 countries house lesser people than those now stranded in Assam.
The National Register of Citizens or NRC has been updated for the first time since 1951 to account for illegal migration into Assam from neighbouring Bangladesh.
Officials asserted that this is only a draft, and no one would be deported and punished based on it. The updated list is seen by critics as a move to target Assam's Muslim population on the pretext of weeding out Bangladeshi migrants.
Georgia, a country at the intersection of Europe and Asia, comes close to the number as well in terms of its population.
Meanwhile, security in Assam has been strengthened and the Centre has sent extra troops to maintain order in the state.
"Based on this draft no reference case will be sent to the foreigner tribunal or put in a detention centre," said Satyendra Garg, home ministry officer in charge of the Northeast.
Of 3.29 crore people who had applied for their names to be included, 2.89 crore are in the citizens' list. Claims and objections from those left out of the citizens' list will be taken up from August 30.
The updated NRC list counts only those as Assam citizens who can prove that they were living in the state on or before March 21, 1971. The list has been updated to include the names of descendants of those whose names were in the 1951 list, or those who were in Assam's electoral rolls till March 24, 1971.
The descendants of those, who can prove citizenship till March 24, 1971, will also be considered Indian citizens. So will those who came between January 1, 1966 and March 25, 1971, and registered themselves with the Foreigners Registration Regional Officer.
Almost 1.9 crore were cleared in the first draft released on December 30.