Indian officials are registering Bangladeshi residents in the state of Assam in an apparent bid to reduce the Muslim population.
“The Hindu rate of population growth is declining. But the Muslim rate is rising. Most of the Muslims here are from Bangladesh. If this continues, the Assamese Hindus will become a minority soon — we will lose our language, our culture, our identity,” Assam’s finance minister told The Washington Post.
Assam shares a long border with Bangladesh, with much of it consisting of wetlands easily crossed by boat. The majority of the Indian Army and its border forces are positioned hundreds of miles away on the Pakistani border, particularly clustered over the disputed territory of Kashmir.
The registration and deportation effort is known as “detect-delete-deport.” Indian officials are now concerned that Bangladeshi Islamic terrorist organizations, like the Islamic State, can infiltrate India by posing as illegal immigrants. Officials say detecting illegal immigrants from Bangladesh will be exceedingly difficult, as some have false identity papers and have even voted.
“As soon as they arrive, their priority is to enter their names into the voter list somehow. They forge all kinds of documents and pay bribes for this,” an Indian judicial official confirmed.
After digitizing Indian census data, officials discovered 31 people who were claiming to be the child of a single man, and another large group claimed the same woman as their mother. Claimants’ birth dates make it impossible for the mother to be legitimately connected to them all, prompting an investigation by Indian officials.
“There are so many of them spread all over the state. We are anxiously waiting for the government to finish its paperwork and uproot them,” a Hindu resident of Assam lamented to The Washington Post.
India and Bangladesh have no official treaty outlining repatriation processes. The Bangladeshi government accepted 10 deported illegal citizens for the first time in early November, the Times of India noted.
(Editor’s note: This post has been updated.)
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