A senior BJP leader has reinforced Home Minister Amit Shah's resolve to remove illegal immigrants from "every inch" of India, over a week after the final list of people who have made it and who didn't in the Assam citizens' list was published.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain supported the call that several states ruled by his party had made on carrying out the exercise - National Register of Citizens (NRC) - to filter out illegal immigrants and deport them.
"We are not running a dharamshala (shelter) where anybody can enter and stay for as long as they wished. People from all parts of the world are allowed to come to India. Nobody is barred. But they must do so with a valid passport and must not stay beyond the time stipulated in the visa. Illegal immigration must be checked," said Mr Hussain at an event in Bihar's Madhepura district, according to news agency Press Trust of India.
At least 19 lakh out of 41 lakh people in Assam who had applied for re-verification of citizenship did not make it to the final NRC list. A total of 3.11 crore people are in the NRC. The Assam citizens' list seeks to segregate Indian citizens living in the state from those who have illegally entered the state from Bangladesh and other countries after March 25, 1971.
During a discussion in parliament in July, the Home Minister said the centre will keep identifying illegal immigrants staying at any part of the country and deport them. "...The NRC is part of the Assam Accord and was also in (BJP's) election manifesto based on which the government has come to power. The government will identify illegal immigrants living on every inch of the country's soil and will deport them as per the international law," Mr Shah said, a remark that he repeated several times at public events in recent times.
Among the BJP leaders who have asked for NRC to be run in their states include Karnataka BJP MP Tejasvi Surya and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.
The BJP has for long been alleging that the demographic composition of Assam was to an extent influenced by large-scale infiltration of Bangladeshis, a situation that some political parties used for their own benefit.
Those whose names are not on the Assam NRC list cannot be declared as illegal immigrants till they have exhausted all legal options, the government has said. The first step for them is to appeal in the Foreigners' Tribunals. They can advance from there to the high court and then to the Supreme Court.
Some BJP leaders have raised concerns over a large number of Bengali Hindus being left out of the Assam NRC.
With inputs from PTI
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