The senior BJP leader says the years-long citizenship exercise has traced up to 1.5 million foreigners.
In an interview with Indian media News18 hours after the publication of the National Register of Citizens or NRC, Sarma said: “This has been a mixed bag for us. People who came in post-1971 as refugees will face problems… We sympathise with them, but there are many who have manipulated the NRC process and we will look into it.”
“There is no myth… If you go through the religious census data, you would see that there has been a significant shift in the demography…
“We have managed to trace some illegal immigrants and we are looking to refine the search and the process will go on till every indigenous people of Assam will find their place... We have traced 14-15 lakh foreigners... This has been proved,” he said.
News18 contacted Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal for comments on the NRC.
When asked about Sarma’s statement, he said, “Bangladesh has nothing to do with NRC. I repeat, it is India’s internal matter. I don’t know who said what in this matter. Let India inform us officially, then we will respond.
“All I can say is that no one from Bangladesh went to India after 1971. It may be possible that they settled (mainly Bengalis) in Assam from various parts of India itself, but not Bangladesh.”
He also said he did not think the Indian government will push anyone towards Bangladesh.
In Dhaka, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told reporters after a programme that the government was keeping an eye on the developments.
“Some in India are saying there are many Bangladeshis, but actually there is no Bangladeshi citizen. All who went there from Bangladesh moved between ’47 and ’71. No-one goes now,” he said.
Asked if the issue will damage Bangladesh-India ties, he said, “Future is unknown.”
Officials checked documents submitted by roughly 33 million people for a draft NRC released last year. It had left out more than 4 million residents of the state, many of them Hindu. A little over 31.1 million people now make up the final list.