After the National Register of Citizens Assam declared over 19 lakh people as illegal migrants, speculation has been rife over the next step for those not included in the final list. Now, the excluded people will have to approach the Foreigners Tribunal where they will be required to prove their citizenship. The subsequent process involves either detention or freedom for the appellant by Foreigners Tribunal.

In a similar situation, the Maharashtra Home Ministry is learnt to have written to the Navi Mumbai planning authority to inquire about land for building detention centres for the illegal migrants in Maharashtra. The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) Maharashtra has reportedly received a letter from state administration that has sought a two-to-three acre plot in Nerul, a residential area in Navi Mumbai.

The Ministry, on the other hand, has denied sending any letter. The Centre, earlier this year had notified all the states with major immigration points to build detention centres for illegal migrants.

According to sources, the move is aimed at repeating the NRC exercise in Maharashtra, which is the country’s second-most populous state. The population has been a bone of contention for regional parties like Shiv Sena that has periodically shown its aversion for migrants from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

The state of Maharashtra is some months away from the Assembly Elections, and the move can certainly be a vote bank churner if turns out to be true.

The Shiv Sena has often claimed that the state comprises a large chunk of Bangladeshi immigrants living and working in Mumbai. One of Sena leaders Arvind Sawant last week had asserted that a similar exercise as that of Assam NRC should be held in Mumbai to erode the Bangladeshis living in the city.

Home Minister Amit Shah has also often called the illegal migrants termites saying they should be off the electorate.

One of the BJP’s manifesto for 2019 national polls was its promise to establish the legitimacy of citizens living in states and to weed out the illegal ones. It had promised to bring in the Citizenship Amendment bill which stands null and void for the time being.

The Assam NRC has left the fate of over 19 lakh people at the hands of Foreigners Tribunal with the process being termed flawed. Many people who were included in the final draft that released last year were excluded from the NRC.

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