Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai

They have lived in the Indian state of Assam for over 40 years, but suddenly, they stand to lose their citizenship.

Over 4 million people have been left out of the final draft of Assam’s National Register of Citizens(NRC). Twitter users took to the social media platform to ask: Are these human beings mere numbers now?

On Monday and Tuesday, Twitter saw Indians debate #NRCAssam. Many were divided between two opinions. While some said that this was forceful eviction of people who had built their lives in Assam, some felt it was only right that illegal immigrants leave the country.

After the final draft of the list was released, politicians and journalists shared the numbers on social media. Indian journalist @StuteeMishra tweeted: “#NRCAssam - Out of 3,29,91,385 applicants, 2,89,83,677 have been found eligible for inclusion in complete draft of NRC. 40,07,708 people don’t make it to the list.”

News agency Asian News International(ANI) quoted West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) as saying: “There were people who have #Aadhaar cards and passports but still their names are not in the draft list. Names of people were removed on the basis of surnames also. Is the government trying to do forceful eviction?”

At the monsoon session of the Indian parliament, opposition parties led by the Congress today raised the issue of non-inclusion of 4 million names. Scores of parties including Trinamool Congress and Samajwadi Party staged a protest demanding the names to be included in the final draft. The opposition has accused the government of “intentionally” not including 4 million names to appease a particular section of the society.

Many felt this was Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) way of dividing the country and targeting minorities.

Work on the citizens’ register has accelerated under the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist BJP.

With an eye on the 2019 national election, the BJP’s Hindu-first campaign has become more strident, according to critics.

Tweep @peekeymon asked: “Is government of India trying to create another refugee crisis? #40LakhOutOfNRC”

While others pointed out blatant errors. @SayaniSengupt15 tweeted: “A person’s parents and children are in NRC final list but not him. Is it a joke ... what is going on in #NRCAssam.”

Many Twitter users also said it was hypocrisy that Indians expect citizenship after working as expats in countries abroad but when it comes to Bengalis who have been living in their country for so long, they were termed illegal and asked to leave.

@omairanas tweeted: “Indians in London and New York: We should get Green Cards and Residency because we have lived here for over 5 years.

Indians to 4 million Indians in #Assam: You have lived here for 40 years but you are Bengali and foreigner. You should leave India immediately.”

Popular journalist Barkha Dutt (@BDUTT) also posted on Twitter: “Not an expert on #NRCAssam but let’s say these were lakhs of Indians who had lived and worked in the US for years who were suddenly declared illegal. How would we react? Very differently I suspect.”

Calling the move unfair, many pledged support for those left out of the list. Sushmita Dev (@sushmitadevmp) a Member of Parliament(MP) from Silchar, Assam tweeted: “The streets of Silchar, my constituency were deserted yesterday, a curfew like situation. A Bengali dominated district. The silence speaks volumes, it’s deafening to me. I and my supporters will stand by everyone left out of the NRC even the potential stateless who are human. #NRC”

ANI also quoted Bharatiya Samajwadi Party chief Mayawati as saying: “If people living for a long time in Assam haven’t been able to provide proof about their citizenship, it doesn’t mean they should be thrown out of the country. #NRCAssam”