By Ahmad Adil
CHANDIGARH, India (AA) - India's top court on Wednesday said it will not extend the deadline to finalize a list of citizens in the northeastern state of Assam.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) list is unique to Assam. It was first tabulated in 1951, four years after independence from British rule, to distinguish Indian citizens from illegal migrants from bordering Bangladesh, which was then part of Pakistan.
In 2015, the government began a process of updating the list. The new list includes only those people or their descendants who entered India until midnight of March 24, 1971, a day before Bangladesh began its independence movement. The first draft of the list published last year left out 4 million people.
Most of the people excluded from the list are Muslims, raising fears among the community that they are being targeted unfairly by the government.
The Indian Supreme Court, which is currently monitoring the process, had given opportunity to those whose names were left out and they were asked to file claims and objections.
Wednesday's decision said the the final list should be submitted by July 31.
Experts, however, believe the court should have given more time.
“People here think that the honorable Supreme Court should have given more time. In the month of Ramadan its very tough for people, old and young, sick and frail to travel long distance for the hearing and verification process. Moreover false and malicious objections against religious Muslims have only increased harassment of citizens,” Assam-based lawyer Aman Wadud told Anadolu Agency by phone.