Nearly five million people in India's eastern state of Assam including Muslim citizens and long-term refugees of Bangladeshi origin stateless - similar to Myanmar's treatment of its Rohingya minority are facing the threat of deportation after a top government official said they have failed to provide documentation proving that their families lived there prior to 1971.

The risk comes as the government of Assam prepares to publish a preliminary list of citizens to incorporate into its National Register of Citizens (NRC). uthorities say the updating process - carried out for the first time in six decades - is aimed at detecting and deporting undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modis Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, which came to power in Assam in 2016, has vowed to expel people who are not listed on the NRC.


Tens of thousands of refugees - both Muslims and Hindus - fled to Assam from Bangladesh during its war of independence from Pakistan in the early 1970s, Narendra Modis said: Hindu people of Bangladeshi origin will be allowed to stay in India,, in line with federal policy to shelter Hindus who face persecution in their home countries.

Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam's finance and health minister, told reporters on Wednesday, "All those whose names do not figure in the NRC will have to be deported," He said the local government has mobilised more than 40,000 police officers and paramilitary troops in the border state before the preliminary list's publication.

In order to be recognized as Indian citizens for the latest update, all residents of Assam had to produce documents proving that they or their families lived in the country. Assam is home to more than 32 million people, about a third of whom are Muslims.