Even during the recent home minister-level talks between Bangladesh and India on July 15 in Dhaka, the Indian side did not raise the issue ahead of the publication of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam on July 30.
"This is just a draft and not the final list" India's census commissioner Sailesh, who uses only one name, told reporters in Guwahati, the state's principal city. "They can raise objections and appeal and will have to complete the procedure then it will be decided whether their name will be in the list or not", he said.
Prateek Hajela, the NRC State Coordinator who devised the system for the first-ever exercise to update the 1951 NRC, said it could not be said at this juncture how many people would get left out of the complete draft.
Work on it accelerated under the state and central governments of Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and the exclusions from the list released on Monday have given ammunition to opposition parties to band together against Modi's re-election bid next year.
Hundreds of thousands fled to India from Bangladesh during its 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
"We are doing an exercise that is unprecedented and if there are course corrections which are required to be done, we will need to do that", said Hajela, who is guarded round-the-clock by a team of police.
Large number of Bengali speaking Muslim has been left out of NRC list.
Security has been tightened across the state, which borders Bangladesh, as thousands of Bengali-speaking Muslims worry about being sent to detention centres or deported, a Reuters witness said. The NRC allows those deemed "D" or "doubtful" voters to apply for inclusion but does not include their names unless the Foreigners Tribunals - statutory authorities set up to detect "illegal immigrants" in Assam - declare them as non-foreigners.
33 million people live in the state and there are frequent clashes between the majority, ethnic groups and the separatist guerrilla naxalite (a term used to indicate the Indian Maoist communists). About 2,000 Muslims, including children, were masscared in a single day in Assam's Nellie village in 1983 at the height of the anti-foreigners agitation. The population will have time to register documents from August 30th to September 28th.
The draft list incorporated the names of almost 2.89 crore individuals out of the 3.29 crore applicants, leaving out more than 40 lakh applicants from the final draft.
Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said the ministry concerned is willing to formulate modalities of the SOP to deal with the process of claims and objections and that courts should direct that no coercive action shall be taken till equal opportunity is given to all.
The TMC had opposed the NRC and its implications long back, Banerjee said, adding that the Centre and the Assam government never opposed it.